White House Staffers Forced to Resign Over Past Cannabis Use

zo Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers…
White House Staffers Forced to Resign Over Past Cannabis Use
Photo by Erin Scott-Pool via Getty Images

Dozens of White House workers were suspended, asked to resign, or put in a remote work program for consuming cannabis.

Recreational cannabis use is currently legal in 14 states, but the White House still considers it grounds for terminating staffers who would otherwise be qualified for positions requiring security clearances.

According to a report from The Daily Beast, the careers of dozens of staffers have been put in purgatory — and in a handful of cases, had their plugs pulled altogether — by the Joe Biden administration, despite claiming prior cannabis use would no longer automatically eliminate their eligibility for White House jobs with high levels of clearance. Staffers were forced to disclose their use of cannabis in official documents for their background checks and were swiftly reprimanded. Even those from states where cannabis use is completely legal have reportedly been suspended, asked to resign, or put in a remote work program by the new administration. “Nothing was ever explained. … The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” said an ex-staffer in the report.

When the news of staffers being let go began to circulate, White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, offered a comment via Twitter (see below.) “We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House,” Psaki wrote, linking out to an NBC News report. “As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy,” Psaki added.

The move reflects the president’s ongoing reluctance to budge on any type of federal-level cannabis reform, which according to a new poll, is more popular than he is amongst American voters. Even during his campaign for president, when nearly all of his competitors had vocally supported the federal legalization of cannabis, Biden balked at even considering it, clinging to the old “Gateway Theory.” Meanwhile, a third of Americans live in states were cannabis has been legalized for recreational sale and use and nearly two-thirds of states have adopted medicinal cannabis programs.


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