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Drugs and security clearances are always a hot topic. Why? Because there are a ton of questions and cases that come up involving the two.
This subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog is applying for their first security clearance and filling out their SF-86 for the first time. Before we dive into this story, always remember that it’s best to not self-sabotage if you ever see yourself entering a career in national security, and play by the rules.
“I recently (~3 months ago) bought modafinil online using bitcoin. My understanding was that it is illegal to sell modafinil in the US, but not to buy/possess it. This was before this job was even on my radar, and I have since learned that the whole thing is illegal. (I know this was very naïve of me)
I don’t mind admitting to this but am worried about the potential for criminal charges to be filed, or local authorities being notified. From what I’ve read so far online, it’s up to the investigators’ discretion whether to inform other agencies or not. So, am I rolling the dice if I admit to it? My other alternative is to just back out of the whole thing; is that a bad idea? Would I be banned from applying again in 7+ years (when I could give an honest “no” answer)?”
IS BUYING MODAFINIL LEGAL?
Modafinil (also known as Provigil) is a schedule IV drug that can treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. To obtain this medication legally, it must be prescribed by a physician and purchased through a legitimate pharmacy.
Buying these pills online yourself without a prescription is 100% illegal in the United States.
SECURITY CLEARANCE DETERMINATION
Misuse of a prescription medication can raise concerns and disqualify an individual from holding a security clearance (Guideline H) but such concerns can be alleviated by showing:
- The behavior was so infrequent or so long ago that it is unlikely to recur.
- It doesn’t cast doubt on an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, or judgment.
- An individual acknowledges the drug involvement, provides evidence of actions taken to overcome the problem, and has established pattern of abstinence.
Each individual’s application, each investigator, each DOHA judge, etc. is going to look at things differently. However, each security clearance application is looked at with the whole-person concept, so it could potentially be looked at as an isolated incident brought about by a single lapse in judgment.
Now on to the bitcoin piece: To some, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the future; cyber funds allow individuals to make confidential transactions and can be used in international trade. To others, this type of currency could be a serious concern. USMC banned bitcoin on government devices, and owning bitcoin could even be problematic for a security clearance holder. However, ownership of foreign currency, like bitcoin, alone is not reportable on the SF-86.
To say no…is untruthful. If you lie on this form, more often than not, that lie will be uncovered. So, if you do move forward with filling out your SF-86 and applying for a security clearance, honesty is the best policy.
You could certainly wait to apply for a clearance later in life, but if you ever sit down for a polygraph exam, you will need to be truthful about anything that is asked of you.
Security clearance attorney Sean Bigley writes that “federal policy has generally been that admissions of unreported criminal conduct made by an applicant in the course of their background investigation will not be reported for prosecution.”
He also notes that there is a major difference between “can’t” and “won’t” so applicants who have concerns about this issue are advised to consult a qualified attorney before submitting their SF-86.
Bottom line: Do you have a security clearance? Or want one? If you answer to either question is yes, buying pills online with bitcoin should not be a part of your daily mantra.
This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation.