A Convergence of Pot and Patriotism

It’s been a good month for the U.S. Justice Department.

On May 12, it established a new policy that requires agents and prosecutors to electronically record their custodial interrogations in most cases.

Then on May 19, FBI Director James Comey publicly suggested that the Bureau may need to rethink its hiring policy on pot if it wants to attract the best and brightest to combat cybercrime and other threats to national security. You may remember Mr. Comey as the former Deputy Attorney General who, back in 2004, intervened in dramatic fashion when White House officials attempted to railroad a hospitalized John Ashcroft into recertifying a domestic-spying program that the Justice Department had determined was illegal. Say what you want about him, but the man has spent most of his professional life as a prosecutor and public servant. He’s probably no radical.

Mr. Comey’s remarks came during an unscripted, question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in New York. When one attendee said he had a friend who would make a great candidate for the FBI but who hadn’t applied because of the anti-pot policy, Mr. Comey encouraged the man’s friend to apply anyway. In one tongue-in-cheek moment, Mr. Comey said, “I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cybercriminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.”

Two days later, Mr. Comey had to clarify his remarks at a congressional hearing when Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions confronted him about them. The Director hastened to clarify that, no, he didn’t want young people to use marijuana, and more to the point, he wasn’t going to change the Bureau’s policy on his own or any time soon. Too bad. Mr. Comey, with all due respect to the distinguished gentleman from Alabama, you’re right, he’s wrong, and we need all the help we can get.

Now let’s all go get a drink.

 

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