State Marijuana Laws Complicate Federal Job Recruitment
For all the aspiring and current spies, diplomats and F.B.I. agents living in states that have liberalized marijuana laws, the federal government has a stern warning: Put down the bong, throw out the vaporizer and lose the rolling papers.
It may now be legal in Colorado, in Washington State and elsewhere to possess and smoke marijuana, but federal laws outlawing its use — and rules that make it a fireable offense for government workers — have remained rigid. As a result, recruiters for federal agencies are arriving on university campuses in those states with the sobering message that marijuana use will not be tolerated.
So members of a new generation are getting an early lesson in what their predecessors have done for as long as there has been espionage, diplomacy and bureaucracy. They are lying and, when necessary, stalling to avoid failing a drug test.
As any regular marijuana smoker will tell you, it usually takes about two weeks for evidence of marijuana use to disappear from urine, a urine sample being the method by which drug use ordinarily is tested.
“Delaying something is part of what a good diplomat is supposed to know how to do,” said John, a young American diplomat who lives in Washington, D.C., where marijuana use became legal this year. “If you can’t put off a test for two weeks, I mean, come on.” He spoke on the condition that only his first name be used in an effort to avoid losing his job.
Photo: Ian C. Bates for The New York Times