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FBI: Finding cybersecurity gurus is tough as many are pot heads

21 May 2014, 7:22 am EDT By Judy Mottl Tech Times
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The federal government agency says hiring needed tech talent for cybersecurity efforts is tough as many aren't passing drug tests due to marijuana use.  ( Chuck Grimmett )

The FBI is mulling revamping its hiring rules regarding drug use, specifically marijuana, as it's getting tough to hire on cybersecurity gurus given the pot-smoking habit many seem to have these days.

FBI Director James B. Comey said the federal enforcement agency may have to change up its regulations regarding employee drug rules to hire on needed IT talent in its quest to fight cybersecurity threats. The FBI has the approval of Congress to add 2,000 staffers and most will be focused on cybersecurity.

But finding that many gurus who don't have a pot habit may be tough, said Comey, during a conference Monday in New York.

 "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," Comey said.

Right now the FBI can't hire anyone who may be users of marijuana but Comey said publicly that those who do have a habit and are cybersecurity experts should apply for a job if interested.

According to a published report the federal crime fighting agency has 1,300 agents currently working 10,700 white collar crime cases nationwide.

The news comes at a time when many states are moving to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and a growing number of Americans believes marijuana drug laws should be changed to non-criminal activities in the eyes of law enforcement and courts.

The news also comes on the heels of a research report that found evidence smoking marijuana, even in moderation, can lead to changes in the brain.

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience last month researchers involved 20 marijuana users between 18-25 years old who said they smoke pot recreationally. The participants smoke an average of about 11 joints a week, with half of them smoking fewer than six joints per week.

The researchers scanned the brains of these occasional pot users and then compared the results with those of 20 other participants who do not smoke marijuana but shared similar traits such as sex and age with the pot users.

Comparing the results of the brain scans, the researchers found differences in the volume, shape and density of the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, the parts of the brain that are associated with emotion and motivation.

"This study suggests that even light to moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy," said Carl Lupica from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users." He studies drug addiction and was not involved in the research study.

Although there are already a number of research studies that examine the effects of marijuana, the focus often is on chronic and heavy pot users. The new study, which was partly funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the NIDA, focused on young and casual users.

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