White House Deflects Question About Denying Security Clearances Over Past Marijuana Use Following Senate Action
It doesn’t appear that the White House is eager to weigh in on a proposal advancing in Congress to stop denying people security clearances over past marijuana use. During a press briefing on Thursday, National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby was asked about an amendment that the Senate Intelligence Committee adopted as part of a broader bill to revise the cannabis-related guidelines for intelligence community workers at agencies like CIA and NSA. The amendment from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) isn’t a novel concept. Even top intelligence officials have complained about how hiring and security clearance policies related to marijuana have created staffing complications, as people can be denied such clearance just because they admit to past cannabis use as part of the background check process. But asked by a reporter if the administration has “a position” on the issue, Kirby demurred. “You’re going to have to let me take that question, sir. I don’t have anything for you on that,” Kirby, who is a retired Navy rear admiral and former Pentagon spokesman, said before quickly calling on another reporter.
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