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Secret Service relaxes marijuana policy in bid to swell ranks

WASHINGTON — Thirty-eight days into the job, the new director of the US Secret Service, Randolph Alles, is getting to know his agency.

Alles told reporters Thursday that he’s working to grow the Secret Service, including by relaxing the agency’s drug policy on marijuana.

Instead of a policy that would disqualify an applicant who has used the drug more than a certain number of times, the agency will now use a “whole-person concept” to measure marijuana use, potentially allowing candidates who admit to marijuana use based on the last age at which they used the drug and the amount of time between then and their application to the agency.

The Secret Service has two primary missions: To investigate and prevent financial crimes, and to protect the US President as well as former US leaders and their families.

The new director acknowledged that around-the-clock shifts and last-minute assignments have affected morale among the force, which now numbers roughly 6,500.

He explained he is aiming to boost the ranks to almost 10,000 agents within the next eight years.

“We need more people. The mission has changed,” Alles said, citing post-9/11 threats that include terror groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, as well has homegrown terrorists. “It’s more dynamic and way more dangerous than it has been in years past,” Alles said.

But despite a change in the drug policy, Alles vowed to keep standards high for agents, saying there is no consideration of downgrading the role of the polygraph in the process, as has been discussed by other federal law enforcement agencies facing staffing droughts.

Alles himself was hired, he said, after only meeting with the President once. The interview was the only time Alles has met the President, he said. But many of his officers have certainly become acquainted with Trump, his family and his many properties. Law requires 24-hour protection of members of the President’s family, as well as the properties that he could be using, even if no one is inside.

“I think between that and the fact that he has a larger family, that’s just more stress on the organization. We recognize that,” Alles said, and said he’s been allocating resources in accordance.

Trump has often spent his weekends at Mar-a-Lago, his waterfront property in Florida, as well as his golf course in New Jersey. He hasn’t yet made a visit to Camp David, the military installation in Maryland that’s acted as a retreat for many presidents in the past.

“Obviously we won’t be able to dictate his travel,” Alles said. “We interface with his staff on how they schedule things and what works better and causes us less resource demands.”