Choosing Weed Policy Over Cyber Security

A cyber attack altered your holiday movie choices last year. Sony Pictures was the victim of a massive security breach. Personal emails were revealed, films pirated and employee data leaked. The corporation immediately kowtowed to the terrorists, rumored to be North Korean-sponsored, killing the theatrical release of the third in a trilogy of Seth Rogan and James Franco bromance movies called, The Interview.

It was terrorism. And it was terrifying. A major motion picture studio had just been brought to its knees groveling for whomever they upset not to do any further damage.

The U.S. has the largest army in the world. We outspend the top 10 militaries in the world combined. We outspend China with the second largest military expenditure by more than three times. Our military budget hovers around $650 billion a year. Every year. We are armed! We are ready! We are fighting! Yet companies on our shores and our citizens are totally vulnerable—sitting ducks waiting for the next hacker to take us down. Anyone at any time can take our personal information and wreak havoc.

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,” said President Obama in his annual State of the Union address. “We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.”

So here’s a problem with our current situation: The FBI needs people who know the computers and all. And some of these people who are knowledgeable in this cyber hacking stuff, who could maybe thwart another attack promising to “keep our kids safe”—not all of them but some—like to smoke pot.

This came up last year when FBI director James Comey told an audience at the White Collar Crime Institute conference that the agency was having trouble finding computer crime experts who didn’t smoke marijuana. “I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey said.

He said he was “grappling” with loosening the current requirement that to even be eligible to work at the FBI you must not have smoked pot in the last three years.

Then anti-drug Senator Jeff Sessions clutched his pearls and admonished Comey during a Judiciary Committee following those comments. “I am absolutely dead-set against using marijuana,” then clarified Comey. “I did not say that I am going to change that ban.” And according to the FBI’s website, as of this writing, the ban hasn’t changed.

After September 11th, the military was only able to translate at three-quarters capacity. They were unimaginably desperate for Arabic speakers while at the same time discharging linguists for being (wait for it) gay. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—#headdesk. So after the largest terrorist attack in our nation’s history, when Americans were willing to give up any civil right for the promise of safety, we wouldn’t let openly gay translators in the military? Basically. Even in the throes of hysteria and grief, when we came together as one nation standing resilient—we still managed to marginalize homosexuals, declining their expertise and opting for a gap in competent personnel instead. Yes, we did.

And now we repeat a dark, self-defeating and completely stupid policy when it comes to personal drug use.

Are we a nation that prioritizes security and stability in our systems or do we want to just finger wag at sinners?

It’s puritanical folly that the FBI doesn’t just consider candidates who want to serve their country and are good at what they do; they must also be candidates for canonization.

Love it or hate it, the war against pot has been lost. It’s mostly decriminalized and now in four state people can buy it without even claiming it’s medicine. It’s taxed and regulated in those states. It’s out in the open. Americans can now admit to smoking marijuana for fun, just like they can drink alcohol for fun. They just can’t work at the FBI (among many other employers).

The irony is Seth Rogan and James Franco movies would have no audience whatsoever if not for the consumption of marijuana. So shouldn’t the people who could protect their interests be allowed to toke if they choose?

Yes.

@tinadupuy

Photo by slonghurst