By Alfa · Oct 17, 2005 · ·
  1. Alfa

    The FBI, famous for its straight-laced crime-fighting image, is considering whether to relax its hiring rules over how often applicants could have used marijuana or other illegal drugs earlier in life.

    Some senior FBI managers have been deeply frustrated that they could not hire applicants who acknowledged occasional marijuana use in college, but in some cases already perform top-secret work at other government agencies, such as the CIA or State Department.

    FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will make the final decision.

    "We can't say when or if this is going to happen, but we are exploring the possibility," spokesman Stephen Kodak said.

    The change would ease limits about how often -- and how many years ago -- applicants for jobs such as intelligence analysts, linguists, computer specialists, accountants and others had used illegal drugs.

    The rules, however, would not be relaxed for FBI special agents, the fabled "G-men" who conduct most criminal and terrorism investigations. Also, the new plan would continue to ban current drug use.

    The nation's former anti-drug czar said he understands the FBI's dilemma.

    "The integrity of the FBI is a known national treasure that must be protected," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, a former White House drug czar. "But there should be no hard-and-fast rule that suggests you can't ever have used drugs. As long as it's clear that's behind you and you're overwhelmingly likely to remain drug free, you should be eligible."

    Current rules prohibit the FBI from hiring anyone who used marijuana within the past three years or more than 15 times ever. They also ban anyone who used other illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, within the past 10 years or more than five times. "That 16th time is a killer," Gen. McCaffrey said.

    The new FBI proposal would judge applicants based on their "whole person," rather than limiting drug-related experiences to an arbitrary number. It would consider the circumstances of a person's previous drug use, such as their age, and the likelihood of future usage.

    The relaxed standard already is in use at most other U.S.

    intelligence agencies, although the Drug Enforcement Administration will not hire agents who used illegal drugs, with exceptions possible for "limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana."

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  1. Alfa

    There's some great news for former potheads: you might have a chance to work for the FBI.

    In yet another example of the U.S. government's bipolar stance on drugs, the FBI is considering relaxing hiring regulations on former drug users.

    The CIA, State Department and other government agencies already have less stringent drug policies than the FBI, and the FBI wants to level the playing field.

    So here it is: if you smoked dope or even crack in college, and presumably didn't get caught, and now have stopped using illegal drugs, the FBI might give you a shot at intelligence work. The change would not apply to special agents or "G-men," who would still be subject to stricter rules.

    Even the FBI's current rules are a little puzzling. If it has been more than three years since you smoked marijuana and you never smoked more than 15 times, you're OK. Likewise if 10 years have passed since you used cocaine, heroin or other illegal drugs, and you only used five times, you're FBI material.

    Is there a little hypocrisy here? How can we say it's OK to smoke when you're young and foolish, so now you can help us bust other people's kids (often poor and black) or maybe nab some of those nasty dealers (often foreign)?

    If drug use is considered a rite of passage for upwardly mobile college students, why are any young people jailed for drug use? Why aren't they given the same pass, and judged merely young and foolish?

    Here's what the nation's former drug czar has to say about the FBI's

    quandary: "... there should be no hard and fast rule that suggests you can't ever have used drugs," said retired Gen. Barry R.

    McCaffrey. "As long as it's clear that's behind you and you're overwhelmingly likely to remain drug free, you should be eligible."

    Wow! Youthful experimentation is now being condoned by the former head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    Can legalization of marijuana be far behind?

    Actually, yes. The same government that wants to bend the rules for national security employees doesn't want people to smoke pot for medicinal purposes. Even though marijuana has been proven to ease the pain of glaucoma, that's no excuse to let anyone use the evil weed in old age.

    These mixed messages on drug use only show how impossible it is to wage a successful war on drugs. A nation that displays such ambivalence about drugs obviously needs to do some real self-examination about what its priorities are.

    An estimated 14.6 million Americans 12 and older were using marijuana in 2004. Marijuana accounts for the largest portion of positive workplace drug tests conducted each year.

    It's time to have open, honest dialog on marijuana and other drug use. Surely if future FBI employees can smoke dope, people dying of cancer should be able to, as well.

    Any type of drug use, including alcohol, carries risks. Instead of just saying no, we need to do a better job educating citizens on those risks and helping them break addictions.

    Locking only certain drug users in the slammer is just wrong.
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