No longer will the Secret Service disqualify applicants for having used marijuana a number of times in the past. The agency is now following a “whole-person” concept, is now considering applications who admit using marijuana, and is now allowing those who have experimented with the drug. The agency now focuses on when last use was prior to applying for a position.

Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, explained during a press briefing on Thursday that the agency would consider how long ago candidates used marijuana rather how many times.

As an effect of lowering the bar, his aim is to amp staff size from 6,800 to 7,600 by 2019 and to, roughly, 9,600 by 2015.

Alles said he’s impressed by the Secret Service agents already on-staff, but, because staffing shortages are affecting morale, more people are needed. The agents are also facing the challenges of protecting President Donald Trump – requiring 24-hour protection at his New York residence and his waterfront resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. Also, agents protect members of President Trump’s extended family.

Even if no one is inside, the law requires 24-hour protection for the President’s family and for the properties that the President could be using. Alles said he is pleased with the protection that agents are providing the spread-out family.

Ever-increasing demands on Secret Service agents

Increasing the agency’s staff is needed, as well, to bolster unpredictable demands on agents and more problems associated with funds to pay overtime. Last year, Congress approved more funds for overtime costs (last year, as well). The agency needs a permanent fix, Alles said. Without that, pay allowances will max out for an estimated two hundred officers and agents.

At the White House, he said, there won’t be easy solutions to dealing with intruders:

  • In March, a Milpitas, CA, man carrying Mace jumped over the White House fence and roamed the grounds for 17 minutes. He was apprehended near the South Portico entrance. Two agents were fired as a result.
  • Also in March, a laptop computer with Trump Tower floor plans and the evacuation protocol was stolen from a Secret Service agent’s car in Brooklyn, NY.

Agents also have to handle six to eight threats a day against President Trump, who receives as many as his predecessors – throughout the past ten years.

Shift in agency's stance on marijuana

Changing the Secret Service’s drug policy for candidates recognizes that marijuana is more widespread in society today. It allows for a younger pool of applicants, including many who experimented with marijuana as teens.

The Secret Service’s shift in policy is one that aligns with additional federal law enforcement agencies. Even with the change, however, the process for hiring Secret Service agents for a position that entails standing within feet of a head of state remains strict. That hiring protocol includes a polygraph test, which will have no possibility of being downgraded. Too, the process includes applicant vision tests and credit checks.

Along with its protection workload, Alles said the agency is tasked with investigating and enforcing laws governing cybercrime and counterfeiting. The mission of the Secret Service has chance post 9/11 terrorism against the United States, Alles said. It is more dynamic and more dangerous than in the past