Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school? Forum

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Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 09, 2024 10:06 pm

Basically what it says on the tin—I did edibles a handful of times (<5) in law school, and never post-bar. Didn’t anticipate applying for federal jobs but here I am. I currently hold a TS but for a different (civil) component at DOJ, and am curious if I should anticipate this being an issue for my application for crim.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 7:24 am

Probably won't be an issue so long as the marijuana use was sporadic, not "regular" in any sense ("regular" would be, for instance, doing it once a week for 50 weeks straight), and so long as you weren't involved in the manufacturing or distribution of the drugs itself. Based on what you've written, it seems like you'll probably be fine.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 9:14 am

I agree that you should be fine. When I was applying post-clerkship, so relatively close in time to law school, I was told that post-bar drug use was the only drug-related dealbreaker. Which doesn't mean other kinds of use couldn't be an issue, just that that was the only categorical ban. As long as you're forthcoming, I can't see that being a problem, especially since it sounds like you've been working for a bit (so law school may be further behind you).

I also don't think that a TS clearance is going to vary by civil/criminal - I think the clearance is what it is, regardless of which component you're in - but admittedly I can't confirm that.

Random commentary: as an AUSA, I have run into older prosecutors who are still adamantly anti-weed in all ways, which always kinds of surprises me, but it's few and far between. Not saying employees do currently partake (or don't - not something people are going to discuss), but I think there's recognition of the cultural shift around it. At this point, a strict ban on any marijuana use ever is going to eliminate way too many good people, especially if your law school was in a state with legal recreational marijuana. (I know, I know, it's still illegal federally - though maybe not for long?? - but I think if it's considered at all, it's fair to draw a conceptual boundary between use in a state where it's legal and a state where it's not.) Not that any of this represents the views of DOJ, though, just my personal thoughts.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 2:09 pm

Yeah, OP here—that’s basically what I was anticipating/hoping, but good to hear! Thanks, folks.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 3:37 pm

Aren't there supposed to be incoming changes to the SF86 form that ask about short-term marijuana use instead of long-term anyway? And with descheduling/the potential for legalization, I suspect this will be a nothingburger within a few short years.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 4:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 9:14 am
I agree that you should be fine. When I was applying post-clerkship, so relatively close in time to law school, I was told that post-bar drug use was the only drug-related dealbreaker. Which doesn't mean other kinds of use couldn't be an issue, just that that was the only categorical ban. As long as you're forthcoming, I can't see that being a problem, especially since it sounds like you've been working for a bit (so law school may be further behind you).

I also don't think that a TS clearance is going to vary by civil/criminal - I think the clearance is what it is, regardless of which component you're in - but admittedly I can't confirm that.

Random commentary: as an AUSA, I have run into older prosecutors who are still adamantly anti-weed in all ways, which always kinds of surprises me, but it's few and far between. Not saying employees do currently partake (or don't - not something people are going to discuss), but I think there's recognition of the cultural shift around it. At this point, a strict ban on any marijuana use ever is going to eliminate way too many good people, especially if your law school was in a state with legal recreational marijuana. (I know, I know, it's still illegal federally - though maybe not for long?? - but I think if it's considered at all, it's fair to draw a conceptual boundary between use in a state where it's legal and a state where it's not.) Not that any of this represents the views of DOJ, though, just my personal thoughts.
Nothing makes more sense than DOJ attorneys throwing poor people in prison for doing the same drugs they partake in

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 4:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 4:23 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 9:14 am
I agree that you should be fine. When I was applying post-clerkship, so relatively close in time to law school, I was told that post-bar drug use was the only drug-related dealbreaker. Which doesn't mean other kinds of use couldn't be an issue, just that that was the only categorical ban. As long as you're forthcoming, I can't see that being a problem, especially since it sounds like you've been working for a bit (so law school may be further behind you).

I also don't think that a TS clearance is going to vary by civil/criminal - I think the clearance is what it is, regardless of which component you're in - but admittedly I can't confirm that.

Random commentary: as an AUSA, I have run into older prosecutors who are still adamantly anti-weed in all ways, which always kinds of surprises me, but it's few and far between. Not saying employees do currently partake (or don't - not something people are going to discuss), but I think there's recognition of the cultural shift around it. At this point, a strict ban on any marijuana use ever is going to eliminate way too many good people, especially if your law school was in a state with legal recreational marijuana. (I know, I know, it's still illegal federally - though maybe not for long?? - but I think if it's considered at all, it's fair to draw a conceptual boundary between use in a state where it's legal and a state where it's not.) Not that any of this represents the views of DOJ, though, just my personal thoughts.
Nothing makes more sense than DOJ attorneys throwing poor people in prison for doing the same drugs they partake in
In this day and age, almost no one gets thrown in federal prison for simply using marijuana. And the prosecution priorities around these issues are set by people at the top, not the DOJ attorneys themselves. But point taken I suppose.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2024 5:49 pm

I'll straw man it. Poor people are irresponsible about drugs. If you can do drugs and get good grades, hold a job, be a productive member of society, you should be allowed to.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 11, 2024 2:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 4:23 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 9:14 am
I agree that you should be fine. When I was applying post-clerkship, so relatively close in time to law school, I was told that post-bar drug use was the only drug-related dealbreaker. Which doesn't mean other kinds of use couldn't be an issue, just that that was the only categorical ban. As long as you're forthcoming, I can't see that being a problem, especially since it sounds like you've been working for a bit (so law school may be further behind you).

I also don't think that a TS clearance is going to vary by civil/criminal - I think the clearance is what it is, regardless of which component you're in - but admittedly I can't confirm that.

Random commentary: as an AUSA, I have run into older prosecutors who are still adamantly anti-weed in all ways, which always kinds of surprises me, but it's few and far between. Not saying employees do currently partake (or don't - not something people are going to discuss), but I think there's recognition of the cultural shift around it. At this point, a strict ban on any marijuana use ever is going to eliminate way too many good people, especially if your law school was in a state with legal recreational marijuana. (I know, I know, it's still illegal federally - though maybe not for long?? - but I think if it's considered at all, it's fair to draw a conceptual boundary between use in a state where it's legal and a state where it's not.) Not that any of this represents the views of DOJ, though, just my personal thoughts.
Nothing makes more sense than DOJ attorneys throwing poor people in prison for doing the same drugs they partake in
I'm the OP you're quoting. To be clear, I was talking about the impact of past use; I don't know any AUSAs/crim div attorneys who currently use weed, but I'm not going to claim to know for certain what every DOJ attorney does.

But that said, l-o-fucking-l at the idea that the feds are putting anyone in prison for using marijuana (let alone for doing so years in the past). Like, there are plenty of legitimate bases for critiquing the federal criminal justice system, you'd think you could have exercised the tiniest bit of effort and come up with something maybe halfway intelligent.

The only people putting anyone in jail for using marijuana are state prosecutors, and I'm pretty sure they don't even have to address past use in a background check, so go yell at them.

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 11, 2024 4:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 4:47 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 4:23 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 10, 2024 9:14 am
I agree that you should be fine. When I was applying post-clerkship, so relatively close in time to law school, I was told that post-bar drug use was the only drug-related dealbreaker. Which doesn't mean other kinds of use couldn't be an issue, just that that was the only categorical ban. As long as you're forthcoming, I can't see that being a problem, especially since it sounds like you've been working for a bit (so law school may be further behind you).

I also don't think that a TS clearance is going to vary by civil/criminal - I think the clearance is what it is, regardless of which component you're in - but admittedly I can't confirm that.

Random commentary: as an AUSA, I have run into older prosecutors who are still adamantly anti-weed in all ways, which always kinds of surprises me, but it's few and far between. Not saying employees do currently partake (or don't - not something people are going to discuss), but I think there's recognition of the cultural shift around it. At this point, a strict ban on any marijuana use ever is going to eliminate way too many good people, especially if your law school was in a state with legal recreational marijuana. (I know, I know, it's still illegal federally - though maybe not for long?? - but I think if it's considered at all, it's fair to draw a conceptual boundary between use in a state where it's legal and a state where it's not.) Not that any of this represents the views of DOJ, though, just my personal thoughts.
Nothing makes more sense than DOJ attorneys throwing poor people in prison for doing the same drugs they partake in
In this day and age, almost no one gets thrown in federal prison for simply using marijuana. And the prosecution priorities around these issues are set by people at the top, not the DOJ attorneys themselves. But point taken I suppose.
You absolutely see a ton of 924(c) (possession of a firearm in connection with a drug crime) charges with nonviolent marijuana dealing hooks though, and in some jurisdictions a lot of 922(g)(3) (drug user in possession) charges with marijuana use hooks. Those are firearm offenses, but they’re de facto drug offenses, especially 922(g)(3), which most people have no idea is a federal crime. There’s a reason federal criminal law practitioners summarize their job as “guns and drugs.”

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Re: Criminal DOJ - drug use during law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 11, 2024 5:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 11, 2024 4:01 pm
You absolutely see a ton of 924(c) (possession of a firearm in connection with a drug crime) charges with nonviolent marijuana dealing hooks though, and in some jurisdictions a lot of 922(g)(3) (drug user in possession) charges with marijuana use hooks. Those are firearm offenses, but they’re de facto drug offenses, especially 922(g)(3), which most people have no idea is a federal crime. There’s a reason federal criminal law practitioners summarize their job as “guns and drugs.”
This seems pretty jurisdiction/district specific because I've never seen a 924(c) charged with marijuana, and my district is extremely reluctant to charge 922(g)(3) at all b/c of the burden of proof, but that's obviously a policy/discretion thing.

But this is certainly a more nuanced response than "pot-smoking prosecutors put poor people in jail for smoking pot hurr durr." My take is that this still isn't putting someone in jail for simply using marijuana - it's leveraging drug charges to put someone in jail for having guns when they shouldn't - but the federal drugs/firearms statutes are a much richer source of critique than personal hypocrisy.

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