Sep 23, 2016 9:40 AM

Marijuana Legalization Changes Pentagon Employment Policy

The Pentagon is changing its employment limitations to meet new realities, and past marijuana consumers can now apply for a job with the military, the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in his interview at the last TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF 2016 conference in San Francisco.

During the interview, Carter noted that the department is now open for hiring people with marijuana experience even if they visited the Burning Man festival several weeks ago and consumed some weed edibles.

When Carter touched upon the importance of hiring top employees to help the department meet the arising challenges, Matt Burns, Senior Editor of TechCrunch, noted that the Pentagon is too restrictive towards people who had drug experience in the past. However, the Secretary of Defense replied that they are changing their hiring limitations taking into account that the marijuana laws are adopted in many states, and the contemporary generation of top engineers is also not the same as before.

“We need to understand—and we do—the way people [and] lives have changed, not hold against them things that they’ve done when they were younger,” Carter claimed. “So it’s an important question, and the answer is yes—we can be flexible in that regard, and we need to be.”

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In 2014, James B. Comey, FBI director, stated that the Pentagon had no tolerance of cannabis when recruiting new staff, which made it difficult to employ and retain top cyber security engineers.

Today's cyber talents want to smoke marijuana even before the interview with an employer, so the Pentagon has to consider this if they want to compete with cyber criminals, Comey noted.

However, the Secretary of Defense did not specify how flexible the department may be toward recruiting former weed consumers during his interview with TechCrunch, so it remained unclear how long the applying professionals must abstain from marijuana before being hired for a military or defense position.

Currently, the Department of Defense is a “drug-free workplace,” and the FBI requires applicants not to be cannabis users for at least the past three years.

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