Law enforcement angencies generally don't hire stoners and slackers. But as the cyber war heats up, groups like the FBI may be forced to turn to people who like to get a little heated to stay ahead of the curve.
“He should go ahead and apply,” was the advice FBI Director James B. Comey had on Monday for a young man who theoretically balked at applying for an FBI job because he liked to get lit. Comey spoke about the difficulties facing the FBI when it comes to hiring promising young hackers at the White Collar Crime Institute, an annual conference held at Manhattan's New York City Bar Association, according to the Wall Street Journal. The trouble is, a lot of hackers smoke weed, and that's something the FBI generally frowns upon.
One attendee asked Comey about a friend who considered an FBI job but ultimately did not apply because of the marijuana policy. The theoretical FBI applicant knew he would never pass a drug test. But director Comey's comments clearly signal the FBI at least wants to move on from the increasingly outdated anti-marijuana policy that is complicating its efforts to fight cyber crime.
Bongs are everywhere in the fictionalized hacker hangout on HBO's Silicon Valley. Heck, two weeks ago police accidentally busted Erlich, one of the main characters, for his grow-op hidden in their garage. Weed is baked into the tech culture at this point, and many people working in tech have zeroed in on the marijuana industry as one ripe for disruption, as Wired's Mat Honan explained recently. Plus, the USA is moving relaxing its marijuana attitudes, considering the drug is now legal in two states.
As it stands, the FBI's hiring policy on its website says an applicant must be marijuana free for three years if they hope to apply for a job with the bureau. Unfortunately for Comey — who has to fill 2000 new jobs this year, many of them dedicated to fighting cyber crime — finding a tech wizard who hasn't smoked in the last hour is hard enough. “I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey told the conference attendees.
The FBI could possibly amend those strict rules soon. Comey told the conference the bureau is “grappling with the question right now” of how to change the drug policy without scaring off the cream of the hacking crop.