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How My Love of Weed Could Have Lost Me My Job at the White House

Before she could become a top aide for President Obama, Alyssa Mastromonaco had a close call with the FBI.

Alyssa Mastromonaco is the former deputy chief of staff for President Barack Obama and more recently the former COO of VICE Media. Her new memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?, is being published this week by Twelve.

It was Friday, October 5, 2008, and I was having a panic attack. I was working as the director of scheduling and advance for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and we were rounding the corner into the final month before the election. But the crisis before me in the Chicago headquarters that day had nothing to do with a bad debate performance, derailed travel schedule, or staff member saying something stupid to a reporter. I was freaking out because I love to smoke weed.

Quick background: Standard procedure for potentially incoming administrations is that senior staff members who need immediate security clearance have to start filling out their forms so they can hit the ground running if they win the election. That Friday, someone in our office got his SF86 form, the written questionnaire for national security positions, and since it was notoriously daunting, we all immediately swarmed him to see what it was about. Name, date of birth, social security number; height, weight, hair color. Police record, passport information. Pretty standard. Then, we flipped to page 93: "Illegal Use of Drugs and Drug Activity."

"In the last seven (7) years, have you illegally used any drugs or controlled substances? Provide the type of drug or controlled substance." There were two columns of drugs and controlled substances. The second entry was "THC (Such as marijuana, weed, pot, hashish, etc.)."

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