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Friday, April 25, 2014

FBI loosening anti-drug hiring policy

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WASHINGTON — Aspiring FBI agents who once dabbled in marijuana use won't be barred from getting a job with the elite crime-fighting agency, which has loosened its drug policy amid a campaign to hire hundreds of agents.

The bureau's pot-smoking standard, in place for at least 13 years, was revised after internal debate about whether the policy was eliminating prospects because of drug experimentation, said Jeff Berkin, deputy director of the FBI's Security Division. The policy disqualified candidates if they had used marijuana more than 15 times.

There was no public announcement of the change. It took effect in January. The decision comes as the FBI continues its hiring campaign and as law enforcement agencies across the USA grapple with high rates of disqualification based in part on applicants' past drug use.

Berkin said the previous policy was based on a scoring system that had become "arbitrary." He also said it created problems for applicants who couldn't remember how many times they had smoked pot when asked in polygraph examinations.

"It encourages honesty and allows us to look at the whole person," Berkin said of the revised policy. He said it was too early to tell whether the new standard has encouraged an increasing number of applicants as the FBI attempts to hire 221 agents and 121 intelligence analysts.

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