Secret Service says cannabis is okay
Published: 07 June 2017 Image credit: US Secret Service
The Secret Service has relaxed its recruitment policies and now won’t immediately disqualify candidates with a history of marijuana use, in a bid to fill in staff shortages.
The agency is charged with the 24-hour security of the US President, the First Family, and properties they may visit, and plans to boost its ranks by 3,000 in the coming the years – partly due to President Trump’s large family and his proclivity to spend weekends at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida resort and at his New Jersey golf course.
But the Secret Services’ strict anti-drug policy for new recruits is seeing fewer and fewer candidates pass muster, and as numerous US states continue to legalise both medical and recreational marijuana, the agency is facing a critical shortage of new hires.
Agency boss Randolph Alles, who only took the job 38 days ago, says the policy change brings the Secret Service in-line with other US agencies, and amid changing societal attitudes surrounding cannabis, it may help solve their recruitment problem.
Candidates already go through a tough vetting process, including interviews, a polygraph test, an extensive background check and an eye exam, but now, their past usage of marijuana won’t mean automatic dismissal.
Instead, the Secret Service will take into account how long a candidate has abstained from using the drug. If the applicant is under the age of 24, they’ll be expected to be cannabis-free for 12 months; if they’re aged 28 or older, they’ll be subject to an abstention period of five years.
“We need more people. The mission has changed,” Mr Alles said, adding that with the ongoing threat of foreign and domestic terrorism, the job is “more dynamic and way more dangerous than it has been in past years.”
In addition to providing round-the-clock personal security, the agency is charged with investigating the six-to-eight threats the President receives daily.
Mr Alles said the threat statistic had not changed from the Obama administration.
Currently, marijuana use is federally illegal in America, but its medical use has been approved by 29 states and Washington DC, while it’s recreational use is legal in eight states.