The Cannabis Closet: Kept From Serving

A reader writes:

One aspect of current marijuana laws I haven’t seen highlighted in this series pertains to the government’s policy of drug-testing nearly everyone who receives a government paycheck. Cannabis_female_flowers_close-up This includes civil servants, recipients of college scholarships, research grantees, etc.

I am a long-time light smoker (okay, I was a heavy smoker at one point), but stopped smoking a couple months back, mainly because I lost my “source” in a relationship breakup.  As luck would have it, I recently discovered that I will have to submit to a drug test as a condition of receiving some government money. Although I’m not going to be adversely affected by this policy, it got me thinking about how many talented people are blocked from taking government money due to these draconian laws.  If, as it appears, roughly 50% of the population might easily fail a marijuana-detection test, what does it mean for civil service and government-funded research?

Another writes:

The FBI refuses to hire any individual who has smoked marijuana in the two years prior to his hiring process. I was outed in the polygraph phase of the applicant process (after I was actually accepted for employment).

I wanted to work for the FBI because I genuinely wanted to help my country, but apparently the 10 times I decided to smoke in college meant I couldn’t.

I no longer smoke because my drive to be a young civil servant in the Obama Administration strongly outweighs the “costs” of smoking. It no longer appeals to me, actually, but I’m sure it will to another young college student who has something to offer this country.


I'm a 26 year old law student at the University of Michigan also pursuing a M.A. in political science. I paid my way through undergrad, working several jobs at any given time, and graduated with honors. I went to work for a law firm in DC and decided to get a law degree. I get straight As, run 20-plus miles a week, and love reading about particle physics, watching the NBA, and listening to records.

Oh, and I LOVE smoking pot. I like watching movies high, playing video games high, reading about evolution high, running high and, on occasion, getting into long winded discussions about constitutional law while stoned out of my mind. I smoke most every night.

I want to clerk for a Federal circuit court judge when I graduate and then work for the State Department. Chances are I won't be able to do either because I won't be able to pass a drug test. A drug test that, were I an alcoholic or a coke head, I could pass with flying colors by abstaining for 48 hours. But I won't compromise my beliefs and quit smoking. There is nothing wrong with it.


I know being a college student who smokes isn't exactly a shocker. I just felt the need to out myself. I smoke maybe 4 or 5 times a year. I'm uncertain about my future as I'd like to join the military and have invested a lot emotionally into the idea. (I'll also pulling in significantly less money in order to serve). I have no idea if I can even obtain the high level security clearances I need because I've smoked a little grass in college. The fact that the last 3 presidents have been drug users, yet upwards of 50% of the talent pool cannot enter the game right away because of pot use, is absolutely ridiculous.