Originally Published: June 8, 2017 6 a.m.
This month the Secret Service announced it was relaxing its standards on applicants, allowing men and women who admit to using marijuana on a regular basis in their youth to be considered for a position that may include protecting the President of the United States.
What does this say about our society?
It’s a recognition of reality and while that may not be a welcome change, changing this policy makes sense.
Randolph Alles, the Secret Service director, said in media reports that he wants to add 3,000 new agents in the coming years.
These agents will have to pass a polygraph test as part of their hiring process. They will not be allowed to be current marijuana users, but if they were regular users years ago, it will no longer be a disqualifier.
Alles said the current force is very dedicated, but they are facing unsustainable levels of round-the-clock protective coverage.
With marijuana becoming more prevalent in our nation, disqualifying such a large number would make it very difficult to fill those 3,000 jobs. If someone is exceptionally qualified and the only mark against them is they smoked pot one summer when they were 16, it makes no sense to deny them the position.
Our world has changed.
Two of our recent presidents experimented with using cocaine. Our current president was caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women.
Today when teens go out to have fun with their friends, it is possible their misdeeds will be forever enshrined on the internet on either Instagram or Facebook.
Would we disqualify someone for doing something stupid when they were 15 because we have documented proof doing something we very likely did ourselves back before the internet existed?
Marijuana is now legal in some states, even if it remains illegal on the federal books. Would it be right to deny someone from Colorado a position for doing what is legal in his or her state?
That makes no sense. This is a positive change by the new Secret Service director, one that will help it fill the positions tasked with pursuing forgeries and protecting people.
Standards need to remain high, and the drug use needs to be in the distant past. But we should not disqualify driven young men and women because they did what so many of their peers also did.
We learn from our mistakes, and this nation has always given good people second chances. This change in policy does that and should be applauded.