This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.
Holding or applying for a security clearance and maintaining significant investments in marijuana businesses can be a problem. We have been advising clients about this issue since some states began to legalize marijuana around 2010. Owning an investment in a marijuana company (e.g., stock, equity) (or working for a marijuana enterprise) is a reportable clearance activity for security clearance holders and applicants and can lead to the loss of a security clearance or problems in obtaining one. Investments in marijuana-related companies may constitute involvement in illegal drug activities under existing government guidelines.
This can potentially be the case even where the clearance holder or applicant does not directly choose their individual stocks. It also makes no difference if the state that the investment is located in has legalized marijuana businesses. The federal government’s current view is that an individual has a duty to know about their investments and to be knowledgeable about federal drug laws.
Federal Directives on Marijuana Usage and Investment
While there has not been new major guidance in the area of investment, Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4, effective June of 2017, provides the current basis for not granting or revoking a security clearance based on drug involvement, including investments in marijuana under Guideline H:
25. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
. . .
(c) illegal possession of a controlled substance, including cultivation, processing, manufacture, purchase, sale, or distribution; or possession of drug paraphernalia;
. . . .
If an issue were to arise, an investment in marijuana businesses could feasibly fall under a number of the security concerns in Paragraph 25 (c) of SEAD 4.
Marijuana investments have been referred to as the new Tesla or other growth industry, according to the news; the urge is to invest now. However, the problem is that until the federal government changes federal drug laws or creates an exception for marijuana businesses or investment, individuals that invest or otherwise become involved in marijuana investments can put their security clearance (and career) in danger. While investments in marijuana businesses are likely less of a red flag than usage of marijuana for a clearance holder, the best advice is to avoid marijuana investments.
We have continued to see significant confusion on this issue since 2010 when a number of states started legalizing the use of marijuana. It is advisable that individuals seeking to hold or to obtain a security clearance refrain from investing in marijuana stocks until federal law or policy changes. Looking at the current standards, the biggest risk is likely knowing that you are investing directly in a marijuana business (or direct ownership), as opposed to investing in a mutual fund where a person might be unaware of such investments. The federal government will eventually change their position on marijuana, but for the moment investing in companies or stocks that are involved in the sale of marijuana could cause security clearance problems.
If an employee needs assistance with security clearance issues, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or visit our website to schedule a consultation. Please also like us on Facebook or connect with us on Twitter.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
Spend the first Sunday of March tasting a great wine selection at Arrowine’s Super Sunday Tasting!
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New properties just listed in Arlington include a 3 BD/3 BA home with an expanded kitchen, fireplace and two lower levels.
March General Membership Meeting
NAACP Arlington Branch is celebrating Women’s History Month with a virtual public safety and Virginia legislative update. Our speakers are Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Delegate Adele McClure.
Virginia House of Delegates, 2nd District in Arlington
Early Years Preschool is a small non-profit preschool and parents day out program that has served local families since 1992. Early Years Preschool is located in the Cherrydale neighborhood at 3701 Lorcom Lane.
Early Years Preschool offers part-time programs for young children between 12 months – 5 years old. Early Years also offers a 6 week summer program! The school day is 9:30-2:30, with the option of morning extended day offered at 9am. Families have the flexibility of registering for 1-3 days/week in their parent’s day out program (12 months- 2 year olds) and 2-5 days/week for their preschool program (3-5 year olds).
Early Years’ teachers provide a nurturing environment that promotes the development of a child’s emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills. Creative and stimulating theme-based activities allow each child to develop and learn at his or her own pace through exploration and play.
Learn more about Early Years Preschool by contacting the admissions team at [email protected] or by visiting their website at http://www.earlyyearspreschool.org
Dedicated to the notion that fans of the Smiths and Morrissey want to hear some of the greatest music ever written in a true live concert setting, Caligula Blushed delivers an authentic rendition of Smiths/Morrissey songs, with each performance based