Thanks to legalization efforts and a general relaxation of public attitudes about pot, many employers have begun to overlook past indiscretions with marijuana when hiring new employees. Some have even gone further, and stopped requiring employees to take part in drug-testing regimens at all.
While this isn’t very surprising for places that hire pizza cooks, bike couriers and office workers, it is pretty surprising when it comes to the federal government. Especially when the employees affected by relaxed requirements have a pretty important job: protecting the president of the United States.
Current Consumers Need Not Apply
To be clear, the Secret Service is not hiring those who currently like to toke kind bud after a long day at work. Agents are still required to participate in random testing and they cannot admit to currently indulging. However, they have stopped immediately discounting applicants who admit to past use, and it appears they may even continue to consider those who were convicted of a minor marijuana-related crime.
The agency reportedly considers the extent of prior use and the length of time that has passed since the hopeful agent used cannabis. But this also depends on the applicant’s age. For example, the agency only requires that applicants younger than 25 to have been pot-free for the last 12 months. Conversely, applicants over the age of 28 must have been drug-free for at least 5 years.
Recruiting Challenges in the New World
The Secret Service’s attitude shift comes at a time when the agency is having trouble filling its ranks. In fact, the agency has always struggled to find enough willing applicants; after all, part of the job description is to literally jump in front of a bullet. But even those who are interested in the job’s demands must meet several other criteria. They must, for example, test well on written and verbal exams, meet stringent physical fitness requirements and have the right personality and demeanor for the job. Applicants must also pass a polygraph examination, in which you can bet that drug use will come up.
The agency – which is much larger than most people would suspect – is actually interested in increasing its workforce by 10,000 additional agents over the next few years. This, it is hoped, will help the agency better adapt to an increasingly dangerous and violent world. It should also be noted that the Secret Service is not only responsible for guarding the president, vice president and their families, but they are also tasked with investigating a number of financial crimes, such as counterfeiting and international money laundering.
Additionally, the agency is concerned that President Trump’s unpopular public image will strain the agency in ways never before seen. The agency is, after all, required to investigate each and every threat made against the president. This requires a significant amount of manpower in normal times, but the agency expects that the number of threats made against President Trump will quickly eclipse previous norms.