Update 5/21/14: After being chastised for his comments about marijuana by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), FBI director Comey told those in attendance at a senate hearing on the bureau’s oversight that he was just kidding.
“I am absolutely dead set against using marijuana,” he said at the hearing, “I don’t want young people to use marijuana. It’s against the law. We have a three-year ban on marijuana. I did not say that I’m going to change that ban. I said I have to grapple with the change in my workforce.”
It’s no secret that the federal government is having a hard time hiring cybersecurity experts, largely because many hackers can find more lucrative deals that don't involve working for the feds. But there's another wrinkle: the FBI now says that its drug-testing policies are keeping experts off the payroll.
According to the Wall Street Journal, FBI Director James Comey said that in order to pursue so-called cyber criminals, the government would pretty much have to let government hackers get stoned—because who's going to quit the habit just to work for the FBI?
“I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey said, clearly not pandering to stereotypes.
The reason for the FBI’s unorthodox approach is that Congress has told the agency it needs to hire 2,000 more people this year, and many of those new recruits are going to fight computer-related crime. And as it turns out, those that know computer crime best aren't often the Men's Wearhouse set.
The agency's current regs say that the lawmen won’t hire someone who has “smoked” marijuana in the last three years. (No word on dabs, edibles and other forms of marijuana consumption.)
In theory, relaxing hiring restrictions for marijuana does make sense. Earlier this year, the feds admitted that the government isn’t very good at internet security—despite the fact that the NSA is basically a Philip K. Dick character’s worst nightmare—and that various agencies need to take a long, hard look at hiring practices across the board.
"[We have] the government hiring practices of the 1940s and 50s in the 21st century," Gregory Wilshusen, director of information at the General Accountability Office, told InformationWeek.
Also, despite the federal government’s mixed approach to marijuana enforcement, the majority of Americans believe that it’s about time to legalize the drug, which remains classified as a Schedule I drug in the US, which is reserved for the most “dangerous” and “addictive” intoxicants known to humanity.
Regardless of the federal government’s stance, the FBI will apparently consider the issue, and is encouraging anyone who has recently got stoned to apply for a job.