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FBI says it struggles to recruit young hackers - because they're all smoking pot

Date

Raf Sanchez

Searching high and low: FBI director James Comey.

Searching high and low: FBI director James Comey. Photo: Getty Images/AFP

The FBI is struggling to recruit bright young computer programmers because of their fondness for cannabis, according to the bureau's director.

Under current rules the FBI cannot hire anyone who has smoked marijuana in the last three years – a policy that rules out many of the best recent graduates.

"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," FBI director James Comey said.

Mr Comey said the bureau was "grappling with the question" of easing the marijuana rules to let in more tech-savvy youth, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Speaking at a conference of the White Collar Crime Institute, Mr Comey was asked by an audience member about a friend who decided not to apply for an FBI job because he had smoked pot recently.

"He should go ahead and apply," Mr Comey said.

However, Mr Comey later clarified that he was attempting to use humour on the subject, and has no intention of changing the bureau's current marijuana policy.

The drug remains illegal under US federal law and possession of any amount can lead to a year in prison, even for a first-time offender.

However, 21 US states have legalised medical marijuana, including two – Colorado and Washington – that have also legalised recreational marijuana.

This year Colorado became home to the world's most liberal set of marijuana rules. Residents can purchase up to an ounce (28 grams) at a time for recreational use from licensed pot shops.

US authorities, including the FBI, have said they will allow Colorado's experiment to go ahead even though its rules go against federal law.

The contradiction has led to complicated legal contortions. For example, under federal law it is illegal for banks to accept money from the sale of cannabis, forcing Colorado's legal shops to use cash only.

In February, the US justice department issued new guidelines reassuring banks that they would not be prosecuted for doing business with marijuana stores.

Telegraph, London; USA Today

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