FBI eliminará prohibición de contratar a los que hayan fumado marihuana

If you can remember the ’60s, you weren’t really there, according to the flip one-liner. And if you smoked pot, it’s highly unlikely that you can recall exactly how many times. (Related: Opposing view)
Many surely did «experiment.» Indeed, almost 100 million Americans – nearly half of all adults – have used marijuana at least once, according to the latest National Institute on Drug Abuse survey. Only a tiny percentage became stoners and slackers. The vast majority became responsible adults. Some even became members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and president of the United States (albeit without inhaling).
Many could not, however, become employees of the FBI. The bureau prohibits hiring anyone who has used marijuana within the past three years or more than 15 times ever.
The FBI is rethinking this pointless ban, one that has already been relaxed by other U.S. intelligence agencies and police departments. No new policy has been proposed and there is no timetable for change. But the FBI’s arbitrary policy – smoking pot 15 times is OK, but 16 isn’t? – impedes efforts to improve national security.
FBI managers are frustrated that they’re unable to hire otherwise qualified intelligence analysts, linguists and other professionals because of the bureau’s policy about past drug use. (Candidates to become special agents would still be subject to the existing rules, FBI spokesman Stephen Kodak says.)
Minor recreational drug use by the young is simply a fact of life and shouldn’t be a barrier to employment or appointment to government jobs. Attitudes have evolved since 1987, when the nomination of Douglas Ginsburg for the Supreme Court was withdrawn after he conceded that he’d smoked marijuana well beyond his college days.
Today, a politician’s confession of youthful drug use is greeted with a yawn. «Inconsequential» was what the White House in 1991 said of reports that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had used marijuana in his 20s.
Current drug use is another matter. Drug abusers cost their employers about twice as much in medical and worker compensation claims as their drug-free co-workers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And law enforcement agencies have every right to demand that employees be drug-free. They back up that policy with random drug tests and other methods.
Unfortunately, too much of today’s enforcement remains focused on marijuana as opposed to methamphetamines and other, more dangerous drugs. Arrests for marijuana hit 771,605 last year, more than for all violent crimes combined, FBI figures released last week show. Those convicted may not qualify for entry to public housing and could lose the right to vote. About 41,000 students were disqualified from federal student loans or grants during the 2003-04 school year because of drug convictions.
The FBI’s reassessment of its policy on past marijuana use reflects a more realistic and promising direction. At a time when the country needs its best and brightest to battle terrorism and crime, youthful indiscretions needn’t disqualify deserving applicants.

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