- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The FBI says its no-tolerance marijuana policy is forcing the agency to turn away its best hacker recruits.

“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,” FBI Director James Comey told the White Collar Crime Institute on Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cybersecurity is a growing priority for the law enforcement agency. Congress has authorized the FBI to hire 2,000 recruits this year and the majority of them will be assigned to cyber crimes units.

In a roundtable with reporters earlier this month, Mr Comey reiterated his focus on cyber crimes, saying cyber-related issues are going to dominate his tenure.

The FBI is “grappling with the question right now” of how to amend its marijuana policies, Mr. Comey told the White Collar Crime Institute, an annual conference held at the New York City Bar Association in Manhattan

According to the FBI’s website, all applicants who have smoked pot within the last three years are excluded from consideration.

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One conference attendee asked Mr. Comey about a friend who didn’t apply to the FBI because of the policy.

“He should go ahead and apply,” despite the marijuana use, Mr. Comey said, according to the Journal.

In Mr. Comey’s prepared remarks, he said: “In recent years, we have changed both our mindset and the way we do business.”

He added that in the past, the agency had been criticized for working “inbox.” Now, it’s trying “to look out beyond our inbox to assess what the dangers are, what’s being done about them, and, given that and our resources, what we should spend time on,” he said.

• Kelly Riddell can be reached at kriddell@washingtontimes.com.

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