If you’re a hacker who smokes pot, the FBI would like to speak with you. About a job.
FBI Director James Comey told a group of New York lawyers that the bureau is rethinking a policy that excludes anyone who has smoked marijuana in the past three years from consideration for employment, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The bureau is focusing more on fighting cybercrime, and recognizes that some of the people best equipped to do it also enjoy an occasional joint, Comey told a conference in Manhattan on Monday.
“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,” he said, according to an account in the Journal.
Someone at the conference asked Comey about a friend who was deterred from applying for a job because of the policy.
“He should go ahead and apply,” the director answered.
On Wednesday, Comey clarified his remarks. He said that he was “absolutely dead set against using marijuana,” and that he did not say he was going to change the application rules — only that he has to grapple with a “change in my work force.”
Asked at a Senate hearing about the remark, Comey said that he was trying to be serious and funny at the same time.
“I waxed philosophic and funny to say, look, one of our challenges that we face is getting a good workforce at the same time when young people's attitude about marijuana, and our states’ attitudes about marijuana, are leading more and more of them to try it,” he said.
Colorado and Washington state have legalized recreational pot.
Fighting cybercrime is more important than ever for the federal government.
Just this week, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against five hackers in the Chinese military and accused them of stealing secrets from American companies, including U.S. Steel, Alcoa and Westinghouse.
“For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber-espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries,” Comey told NBC News on Monday.
The same day, authorities around the world said that they had arrested 97 people in connection with malicious software that allows hackers to spy on people’s computer activity and take control of their machines.
One of the victims was Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. In March, a former classmate was sentenced to a year and a half in jail after he admitted taking control of her and other women’s webcams and threatening to post nude photos of them.