Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was not amused by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey’s observation this week that changing attitudes about marijuana might force the bureau to re-think its policy toward pot use.
Comey’s comments, which he made at an annual conference on white collar crime, appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. The FBI director was talking about the challenges the bureau faces in hiring the kind of computer-savvy agents it needs to battle criminal hackers.
“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,” Mr. Comey said. This is a problem, because the FBI has a requirement that all new hires attest that they have not used marijuana for at least three years prior to filing their application.
According to the report, “Comey said that the agency was ‘grappling with the question right now’ of how to amend the agency’s marijuana policies.” Additionally, it said that Comey told a questioner that a friend who had been scared off by the requirement “should go ahead and apply” anyway.
This did not sit well with Sessions, who upbraided Comey during an FBI oversight hearing on Wednesday.
“Do you understand that that could be interpreted as one more example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use?” Sessions asked, somewhat primly. “And that could undermine our ability to convince young people not to go down a dangerous path?”
“I am determined not to lose my sense of humor,” Comey replied. “But unfortunately there, I was trying to be both serious and funny.”
One of the challenges we face is getting a good work force at the same time that young people’s attitudes about marijuana and our states’ attitudes about marijuana are leading more and more of them to try it. I am absolutely dead set against using marijuana; I don’t want young people to use marijuana. It’s against the law. We have a three-year ban on marijuana. I did not say that I’m going to change that ban.”
Comey tried to continue, but Sessions eventually cut him off, saying, I think you should understand that your words can have ramifications.”
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