Weed Watch

FBI mulls easing up on tokers

As the Bush administration continues its all-out war on marijuana use, FBI officials last week confirmed that Director Robert Mueller is considering relaxing the agency's policy forbidding hiring certain employees who admit to past marijuana use. Reportedly, FBI administrators have become increasingly frustrated with policies that place strict limits on how often and how many years ago applicants for intelligence analyst, linguist, computer specialist, and accountant positions smoked pot – even though some applicants, who've admitted to more toking than the FBI allows, have already worked in other government jobs that require a higher level of security. Current policy provides that an applicant must not have smoked pot within the past three years or more than 15 times. (Policy also forbids hiring anyone who has used any other illegal drug within the past 10 years, or more than a total of five times.) "That 16th time is a killer," said former federal drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey. "[T]here should be no hard and fast rule that suggests you can't ever have used drugs. As long as it's clear that's behind you and you're overwhelmingly likely to remain drug-free, you should be eligible."

Ironically, as the FBI's internal debate continues, on Oct. 17 the agency reported that in 2004, police across the nation arrested a record number of people on marijuana-related charges. In fact, far more people were arrested for simple marijuana possession than for all violent crimes put together. According to the latest FBI crime stats, although the total number of arrests for all types of violent crimes declined (a total of 590,258 arrests in 2004), the number of pot-related arrests increased 2% from 2003, to 771,605 arrests, of which a full 89% were for simple possession.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

war on drugs, Weed Watch, marijuana, FBI, Robert Mueller, Barry McCaffrey

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