FBI struggling to hire new cyberspies – 'because they like weed too much'
THE FBI is struggling to recruit bright young computer programmers because of their fondness for cannabis, according to the bureau's director.
Under current rules the FBI cannot hire anyone who has smoked marijuana in the last three years – a policy that rules out many of the best recent graduates.
"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," said James Comey, the FBI's director.
Mr Comey said the bureau was "grappling with the question" of easing the marijuana rules to let in more tech-savvy youth, the 'Wall Street Journal' reported.
Speaking yesterday at a conference of the White Collar Crime Institute, Mr Comey was asked by an audience member about a friend who decided not to apply for an FBI job because he had smoked pot recently.
"He should go ahead and apply," Mr Comey said.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and possession of any amount can lead to a year in prison, even for a first-time offender.
However, some US states have begun experimenting with easing their own cannabis laws.
This year Colorado became home to the world's most liberal set of marijuana rules. Residents can purchase up to an ounce at a time for recreational use from licensed pot shops.
Federal authorities, including the FBI, have said they will allow Colorado's experiment to go ahead even though its rules go against federal law.
The contradiction has led to complicated legal contortions. For example, under federal law it is illegal for banks to accept money from the sale of cannabis. This has forced Colorado's legal shops to use cash only.
In February, the US justice department issued new guidelines reassuring banks that they would not be prosecuted for doing business with marijuana stores.