back to article Wacky 'baccy making a hash of FBI infosec recruitment efforts

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to hire more infosec professionals to help fight cyber-crime, but can't find the people they need because there's too much weed to weed out from the talent pool. No, really: the Wall Street Journal is reporting that FBI Director James Comey made that exact complaint in a speech …


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  1. Ralph B


    This explains everything.

  2. Denarius Silver badge

    best last line for a long time

    Thank $DEITY I had no coffee in mouth. Well said sir !

  3. Roo


    They should make Cannabis illegal ! Oh they already have...

    Never mind, maybe they could always try recruiting folks as they leave AA sessions. ;)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So in the investigative community, when A makes a seemingly far-out assertion to B, a response of What have you been smoking? will no longer be an expression of incredulity but, rather, a request for A's credentials?

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Credentials

      I'm sure they're called Alice and Bob.

  5. Ye Gads

    Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

    But surely arriving at a job-interview when drunk/high is not the best idea.

    Arriving to a job interview with law enforcement while drunk/high seems particularly nuts.

    1. Psyx

      Re: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

      It would be stupid to spark up a jay on the way to any interview, let alone the FBI. Normally the worst thing that can happen at an interview is that you fail, not that you get nicked! That said: some people are stupid. Don't hire them.

      The real story behind the story is that the FBI are struggling to find anyone young and in infosec who hasn't smoked in the last three years, or at least hasn't been sat in the same room with smokers. That I can believe, and that I think they should give some slack for. After all, it's not like they refuse to hire anyone who has broken the speed limit in the last three years, or if they ask the same young college grads if they've drunk illegally during their first years of higher education. It seems strange that cannabis use is singled out for special attention. The question should not be 'have you committed this specific minor misdemeanour during college?' but 'are you addicted to anything and do you regularly break the law?'

      1. Roo

        Re: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

        "The question should not be 'have you committed this specific minor misdemeanour during college?' but 'are you addicted to anything and do you regularly break the law?'"

        Perhaps, but I fear that would narrow their search even further. Many people claim to be unable to live without caffeine, alcohol, most will have broken a speed limit at least once a year - let alone expecting the entire tax-paying population to accurately complete their annual tax return...

      2. 100113.1537

        Re: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

        With regard to speeding, I think you'll find that they do exclude people with (moving) traffic violations - of course the issue is really whether you were caught or not. Under-age drinking likewise - it would depend on whether this was treated as a misdemeanor or a felony as to when (or if) it comes off your records.

        The other thing with a three year limit on dope-smoking is whether that can be detected (given that you weren't caught and prosecuted). Most people applying to the FBI will probably have somewhat shorter hair, so I would think a 3-6 month limit for most men - sorry girls, you are going to be unlucky again and that's after you were charged at the hairdressers!

    2. Roo

      Re: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

      As it happens I agree with the idea that you should avoid being blatantly intoxicated for an interview, but I suspect that going to an interview totally drug free is a rarity... Caffiene, Prozac - now available without prescription in London's drinking water, hangovers, plus the fact that a surprisingly large proportion of people are prescribed mind-altering drugs to help them get through their daily grind...

      The "facts on the ground" indicate that prohibition is ineffective and unnecessary, but on the other hand it has proven to be a great way for apparatchiks to go on lots of jollies to exotic places, earn lots of money and build a nice big copper-bottomed pension, so I can't see the apparatchiks setting aside their crack pipes for a moment to repeal the legislation.

    3. Fibbles

      Re: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned...

      "But surely arriving at a job-interview when drunk/high is not the best idea.

      Arriving to a job interview with law enforcement while drunk/high seems particularly nuts"

      It's probably hyperbole. I suspect that Mr Comey really just means that these potential whitehats are regular smokers. For example, having a spliff the night before might help someone relax and get a good nights sleep before their interview. That doesn't mean they're going to turn up to the interview intoxicated.

      Asking people if they regularly break the law is a bit iffy as well when state and federal law are at odds with each other.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'm just new fangled

    But surely arriving at a job-interview when drunk/high is the best idea.

    Arriving to a job interview with law enforcement while drunk/high seems good for lulz.

    Especially when you nail the interview and get your licence to hack

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "good for lulz" ?

      I'll be curious to see how much you lulz when you see iron bars all around you.

      In case you were already high when reading the article, the FBI does not hire people who are under influence. It did not say whether said people got arrested, though.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arriving stoned ?

    Bear in mind THC takes forever to degrade, and is detectable (or it's metabolites are) for weeks after ingestion. So a positive (pee) test doesn't indicate being under the influence. A fact HMG decided to ignore when they implemented their drug-driving law.

    The UK has always been something of a backwater in progressive politics, but with developments in Colorado and the wider US, it looks positively antediluvian.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory Video

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They are having to reconsider the rules because this one breaks two important principles of law:

    Firstly, and this is generally accepted, is the retrospective enforcement - it may be illegal to be in possession of dope, but should not be illegal to have once been in possession of it.

    Secondly, Consenting Adults In Private should be allowed to do pretty much what they like, this is the freedom we expect in return for taxes and reasonable behaviour.

    Finally, from my experience, a little "Aurora Borealis" for instance, is a superb tonic when working on a hard problem, no surprise that the devious and inquiring minds under said black and white hats resort to it occasionally.

    1. Irony Deficient

      retrospective enforcement

      Anonymous Coward, as a principle of law, the possibility of retrospective enforcement depends upon the crime which was alleged to have been committed; for example, committing genocide is just as illegal as having once committed genocide. (This is purely discussing the principle; I am not equating genocide with cannabis possession here.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: retrospective enforcement

        An interesting point... Are there other forums in which you do equate the crimes?

        Being in possession of something is a transitory state, as is being under the influence. It is definitely beyond the scope of the original law to make this retrospective. Having committed murder is a permanent state, there is a victim, and the law does not require you to be caught in the act.

        For stolen goods there are two laws, being in possession of, and "handling" - which is retrospective.

        My point is really that Law should stop at the bedroom door, as I think they say, meaning that it's none of the state's business as long as they come out smiling. Persuading the Daily Mail type voters that it's none of their business also, is proving an insurmountable challenge for the feckless babykissers, sorry, politicians.

        I would say don't turn up to work under the influence, but if you do something that few other people can do as well as you, well they're not going to fire you for a while yet are they?.

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: retrospective enforcement

          Anonymous Coward, no, there has not yet been a forum in which I have equated the two — “here” was not used to contrast some other “there”. Your stolen goods example was precisely my point — the principle of retrospective enforcement depends upon the particular crime. Consensual public order crimes such as cannabis possession, unlicensed gambling, prostitution, &c. seem to go through phases of acceptability as the decades have passed, but the sad truth is that they’re too useful to state interests to be permanently removed from many jurisdictions’ statute books.

  10. Shinku

    Call me a no-good hippy sympathiser, but...

    If you're good at what you do and you can get the job done right, I don't see why it matters what you may or may not indulge in during downtime.

    If you show up for work when you're paid to, accomplish the necessary tasks with the required (or an overabundance of) talent and adeptness and don't become an obstruction to the rest of the workforce, everything is golden.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call me a no-good hippy sympathiser, but...

      "If you're good at what you do and you can get the job done right, I don't see why it matters what you may or may not indulge in during downtime."

      That depends on how much you owe your dealer, and whether someone can use that to leverage operational info or state secrets out of you, especially given the links to organised crime that drug dealing normally has - which someone in an infosec position may be helping to work into.

      Same reason they'll be wary if you're a gambler - if you have big debts, and Big Bad John asks you to just forget that you saw his phone records.....

      If you're good though, I understand they are prepared to make exceptions - but truly full disclosure is required.

      There's more to it than just being stoned over on a Monday morning ;)

      1. Shinku

        Re: Call me a no-good hippy sympathiser, but...

        Easy peasy - take confiscated weed hauls, provide them to infosec staff as a perk of the job. Sorted!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call me a no-good hippy sympathiser, but...

        One would have to have a THC habit on a rock star scale - and a very small salary - to be in any sort of debt with a dealer.

        The missus and I share a funny fag almost every evening, and it costs us about EUR 20 for two weeks' worth.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call me a no-good hippy sympathiser, but...

        If you smoke so much pot that your dealer can blackmail you, then you're probably never going to be straight enough to actually do a job. Mary Jane is pretty cheap.

        Cocaine on the other hand, might be a problem.

        Mind you, if you can get through an interview while being off yer tits, I'd be quite impressed.

  11. Elmer Phud


    So, you've done the interview now it's off to the bar with the interviewer.

    Maybe, just maybe, the reason some of the bright young things seem to have an insight is 'cos they get stoned. Artists, writers, musicians, creative coders . . .

    1. Shinku

      Re: Clean?

      Alternatively, people with an insight like to unwind and take the load off for a while. It could go either way.

      I'm not sure I necessarily subscribe to the thinking that weed automagically makes you some kind of super creator with a mind blown so wide open that you can see beyond the normal range of human perception, but if there is some kind of correlation then that could be just as valid an explanation as wanting to get off your tits because you're of an alternative mindset in the first place.

      Either works as far as I'm concerned, much like alcohol it doesn't have to be some specific set of people who use it more than any other, or for any specific higher-minded purpose, but who am I to decide what you put into your body? A little bit of what you fancy, I reckon.

  12. Christoph

    You walk into the interview and you sing "You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant" and walk out.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      You walk into the interview and sing "Alice's Restaurant" and walk out

      I don't think they'd let you finish the whole song. It's a bit of a shaggy dog story and they'd probably twig before you got too far into it.

      Or arrest you for littering, or something.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If your weed is more important than your job

    and you can't stop for a few days before applying for work, you have a problem. Either of some sort of addiction, or a serious attitude problem.

    the last thing government needs is more new, unproven people who believe that whatever they desire is more important than what's being done, and that rules are for someone else to follow and to be ignored.

    We already have that rampant at the NSA, the VA and just about every agency when you shine a light in.

    It's a JOB. you're supposed to be ADULT. Weed is NOT the most important thing in life.

    1. Bucky 2

      Re: If your weed is more important than your job

      What you're saying is true, presuming perfect information. The challenge is differentiating this scenario:

      - You're 20-something

      - You're underemployed

      - You head out to Joshua Tree from time to time and go "rock climbing."

      - You see a great job opportunity and apply for it

      - You get interviewed right away. It's only been a couple weeks since you went "rock climbing"

      - You test positive for "taking a marijuana"

      ... from this one

      - You're 20-something

      - You're underemployed

      - You smoke weed constantly

      - You apply for jobs you feel entitled to, look good on paper for, but aren't qualified to do

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  15. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Problem solving and substances:

    On famed mathematician Paul Erdős:

    His colleague Alfréd Rényi said, "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems", and Erdős drank copious quantities. (This quotation is often attributed incorrectly to Erdős, but Erdős himself ascribed it to Rényi.)

    After 1971 he also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erdős won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence, mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.

  16. Robert Helpmann??

    Option C

    I doubt this will be an issue much longer as the US seems to be moving toward legalization. As an interviewer, I would be more than a little off-put by an interviewee smelling strongly of any drug or showing signs of intoxication. The issue to me is not what one enjoys during personal time, it is the demonstrable lack of judgement being demonstrated while applying for a job that requires responsibility and discretion.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Option C

      > it is the demonstrable lack of judgement being demonstrated while applying for a job that requires responsibility and discretion.

      Sorry, we had assumed the shortage was in in problem-solving skills. 'Responsibility and discretion' are fairly easy to come by.

      As an interviewer, I would be put off people with a demonstrable lack of reading comprehension.

      What if if the substance improved their performance? [see Paul Erdos, above]

      What if the individual was potentially open to blackmail?l [see Alan Turing]

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: Option C

      The problem here isn't about dudes going to their interview while stoned, but that the FBI restriction on hiring spans 3 years backwards. I don't know of any drug that has a 3 year lasting effect on your brain, though you might feel that long depending on the mind-altering drug...

  17. Oninoshiko

    I vote for more dope in the FBI.

    no seriously, a little paranoia and maybe they can actually be bothered to bring some charges against the who think recording every phone call is on the same planet as "acceptable"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview”

    Hey, do what I did and take nothing but mushrooms in the lead-up to the interview. They generally don't test for psylocin/psylocibin metabolites cos it's too expensive to do so.

  19. skeptical i

    Washington, DC, is MMJ+, btw ...

    ... as are California (home to the Silicon Valley tech talent pool) and a dozen or so other states that have decriminalized the use of cannabis for medical use. It should be pointed out that people get wrecked on percocet, oxy, and other legal pharmaceuticals all the time, but generally don't lose their jobs until a catastrophe happens and the substance use is revealed after the fact.

    Also, to respond to an earlier comment, I thought I read somewhere that "substance abuse" is considered a "disability" and therefore anyone claiming such affliction can not be discriminated against. Don't recall if the context was hiring or health insurance (or ??), but still ... America really is the land of opportunity.

    Spark one up, dude. -->

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