A reader writes:
Six months ago, my husband got a job on a Department of Energy site working for a private contractor. He then had to apply for a low-level security clearance – not because his job actually requires it, but because it's necessary in order to go to certain areas of the site. The form he had to fill out was incredibly long and detailed, and of course included questions about previous drug use. My husband has never been a serious user; he doesn't even like pot that much, and he's never tried other illegal drugs. But, like most people we know, he smoked pot occasionally in college and in the few years following. He hasn't smoked in years, and he would never go to work high. He had to pass a drug test to get this job, and he's subject to random drug tests as long as he's employed there.
So when he came to the security questions on drug use, he had an important choice: lie, or give some version of the truth. I encouraged him to lie, so did some of his colleagues who have gone through the process and did the same.
My husband decided to tell the truth, for three main reasons: he's almost constitutionally incapable of lying; he thinks it's important that the government knows that people working for them have gotten high, because it is completely ridiculous to stigmatize it; and, of course, Obama has admitted to smoking weed and he has a pretty high security clearance, so how are they going to deny it to my lowly husband?
He sent in the form awhile ago, and last week got back an additional questionnaire asking for impossible details: first and last day of use, frequency of use, amount used, locations where use occurred, etc. It's clearly a generic form that gets sent to everyone who admits to drug use on the original form, but he had already given most of this information the first time around. It is crazy that pot is treated on the same level as heroin or meth, and that alcohol and prescription drugs are not asked about.
We'll see what happens with all of this, and I'm nervous that my husband's honesty could cause him to not get this clearance and potentially lose his job. Meanwhile, it seems like many (most?) people confronted with forms like this simply lie, because the chances of getting caught are close to nothing, and the government completely overreacts at the slightest mention of weed. Maybe I'm overly anxious and this will pass without incident, but it just got me thinking about our ridiculous drug laws.
And I'd be curious to see if other readers have had similar experiences, because Dish readers are a smart, educated, pot-smoking bunch who seem to have knowledge about everything!
We are also curious. Hundreds of Dish readers over that past three years have submitted stories to the Cannabis Closet, but here's a chance for anyone to contribute in a quick and simple way: answer the yes/no questions in the Urtak survey embedded above. No registration is required and all responses are completely anonymous.