New INSF and ClearanceJobs Paper: (Uncleared) and Confused

April 20, 2023

(April 2023) Arlington, VA—Today, the Intelligence and National Security Foundation (INSF), the charitable arm of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, and, released a white paper, (Uncleared) and Confused: Drug Use Confusion Trips Up Young People that reveals 1 in 5 people under age 30 would not pursue a national security career because of current drug use policies.  INSF is a 501(c)3 dedicated to addressing contemporary intelligence and national security challenges. 

The result of a comprehensive survey of young professionals, age 18 to 30, the paper found that while conventions around marijuana use may have shifted, federal laws have not kept pace. This makes ongoing drug use an issue for security clearance applicants. And, according to the report, "that leaves many wondering if the path to a national security career is going up in smoke for an increasing number of applicants." 

Key findings:

  • Only 4% of respondents understand the federal government's policy on marijuana use for applicants and current clearance holders
  • 15% would be unwilling to refrain from using marijuana to get/or keep a clearance
  • 30% have avoided applying or pulled an application due to marijuana use

These findings support previous research by organizations such as RAND, who have cautioned that both increasing norms around marijuana use and confusion over the policies could be hampering the government’s ability to attract young talent.

In closing, the paper find that national security need more young people to enter the ranks – and while the survey showed many are still willing to pursue a national security career, losing one in five due to current drug policies – and even more to confusion about those policies – is keeping the government from attracting all of the talent it needs.

Download a copy of the report.

Media Coverage

Confusion Over Weed Policies May Be Blunting New Recruits for Intelligence Agencies
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