Critical Analysis of Science to Understand Risk from Cannabis Use – IN PROGRESS
There are misconceptions about screening and vetting processes that may inhibit people, particularly of a younger demographic, from applying for critical skills positions. This may vary by demographics and other variables, like sexual or gender orientation, mental health diagnosis/concerns (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020), frequency of contact with foreign nationals (familial or other) (Suciu, 2020), or financial aid debt. Additionally, differing state and federal laws around cannabis use may cause consternation for potential applicants regarding recreational or medicinal use (Allen, 2020). These issues and the extent to which they have an impact on potential applicants, has not been explored in an evidenced based, data-driven manner with behavioral health expertise, which may lead to critical jobs remaining unfilled by a substantial talent pool.
Beyond applicant fear, there are a number of unanswered questions: Does regular cannabis use pose a risk to employees who handle sensitive information and, if so, how do we objectively evaluate that risk? What criteria should personnel vetting use to identify and evaluate cannabis “abuse” or “misuse” that reduces trust in employees and increases security risk? Should cannabis use be vetted any differently than alcohol misuse or abuse? Are the criteria and risks the same as employees who abuse alcohol when not working regarding risks to security? Does regular cannabis use make people more paranoid, and if yes, does that increase risk to security or make them too scared to engage with strangers and be recruited? Are there other consequences of high cannabis use when used regularly not at work? Does quantity matter? Does frequency matter? Critical analysis of the science is necessary to understand the impact of cannabis use on reliability.
Although cannabis has not been federally de-criminalized or legalized yet, the screening and vetting community should start preparing for that possibility in advance since medical marijuana in some form is legal in 28 states. MITRE is producing a scientific research report evaluating whether the highs from cannabis use reduce inhibition, increase information sharing, affect decision-making, and reduce trust.