Secret Service softens cannabis stance in new drug policy

Secret service update: Photo of secret service agent in front of President Biden's helicopter

Secret Service applicants can now have used cannabis within a year of applying according to a new drug policy issued by the United States Secret Service (USSS) last month. The USSS protects current and former presidents and vice presidents, along with their families, as well as visiting foreign heads of state. They also act as security for the White House and events with national significance.

Under the previous policy, USSS hopefuls had to wait one to five years after consuming regulated cannabis before applying to the service. Applicants 24 years old had to wait one full year after consuming, while those 28 and older must have abstained from cannabis for five or more years. In the updated policy, USSS applicants must have abstained from legally-purchased cannabis for one year before applying.

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An applicant can still have sold, grown, or distributed cannabis ten years prior for personal or recreational use, given the act of cultivation or distribution was not for profit, meaning that all cannabis grown by the applicant was used recreationally or medicinally by them or given to a family member or friend. Judgment on the sale and distribution of cannabis will be case-by-case, taking the amount of flower or other product cultivated or distributed. Any act of cannabis commerce that goes beyond these guidelines deems an applicant ineligible for service.

The updated policy also addresses cannabidiol (CBD), recognizing that applicants may have purchased CBD or hemp seed oil products within one year of submitting their application. The document lists product examples like ingestible oils, dietary supplements, and food alongside topical products like shampoo and lotion. Applicants’ use of CBD and hemp products will also be subject to a case-by-case review by personnel with legal authority.

Over the last decade, the service has dealt with issues that have raised questions with regard to Secret Service culture. In response, the agency has since been intentionally increasing racial diversity, growing the percentage of ethnic and racial minorities from 25.6 percent to 35 percent from 2006-2020. Women in the law enforcement agency remained at 24% during that time.

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Employee retention and growth are another primary focus for USSS. In 2021 the agency reported 7,609 employees with hopes of growing to 9,595 by 2026, as reported by the Government Executive. The slightly loosened restrictions on past cannabis use in the latest update to the Secret Service drug policy opens the door for more applicants as the agency reaches for its employment goal.

All applicants must still pass a routine drug screening, and the updated policy explicitly cites that using CBD or over-the-counter products is not an acceptable excuse in the event of testing positive for cannabis.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.