FBI Director Details Challenges to Finding Cyber Security Staff Who Don’t Smoke Pot

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is facing off against an increasing threat, which requires agents with entirely different skill sets than those the bureau has traditionally sought. Cyber criminals operate in the relatively anonymous domain of the Internet, and can be virtually impossible to catch by anyone who is not extremely well versed in computers and technology.

In an effort to recruit more individuals with the requisite skills needed to go after cyber criminals, the Director of the FBI recently insinuated it may be necessary to lessen the bureau’s tough policy against hiring candidates who use marijuana.

Currently, anyone who has used marijuana in the past several years is automatically disqualified from working for the FBI. FBI Director James B. Comey recently commented that the FBI has a zero-tolerance policy against hiring individuals who smoke marijuana, and that this prohibition may be preventing his organization from recruiting valuable cyber security assets.

In his address to the New York City Bar Association in Manhattan’s annual White Collar Crime Institute conference, Comey remarked that some of those most competent to fight cyber criminals “want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.”  He also indicated that the agency is “grappling” with the question of how to update its marijuana policies to allow it to attract the best qualified candidates.

When speaking at a congressional hearing after his initial remarks, Comey was asked about them. The director insisted that, while the comments were meant to be taken half-jokingly, they were also half-serious. He reiterated the fact that agency needs to attract more competent cyber law enforcement professionals, and that agency’s drug policies do represent an impediment to achieving that goal.

However, in the hearing, Comey also affirmed his anti-marijuana stance, a conflict which essentially served to exemplify the agency’s conundrum.

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