White House staff members fired over cannabis use

Published Apr 3, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
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When President Biden’s role in the government was to serve as senator, he authorized some of the nation's harshest federal drug laws. Donald Trump, Biden's predecessor, on his last day of office, delivered some startling White House news. He released two prisoners who were serving a sentence of life without parole for a marijuana charge that had Senator Biden's support.

What is the position of the now President Biden on weed today?

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, has not revealed why five former admitted pot users are now without a job after months and, in some cases, years of service in the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris has been heard openly discussing her cannabis use of the past. She even went so far as to tell the public that she used to get high. Her statement, which was made in 2019, “It gives a lot of people joy, we need more joy in the world,” suggests that her position on cannabis is relaxed.

Clarity needed

According to Psaki, the rules of the Biden administration have been relaxed around cannabis issues. She states that Biden's policies have put a barrier to automatically disqualify staff for past or current cannabis use. It is, however, noted by at least one of the staff that was fired that the policy is unclear. According to one of the fired White House staff, nothing was explained within the policies. The threshold for what was deemed excusable and for what was considered inexcusable was blurred and impossible to understand.

Security

The determination of who is suitable for serving the government is not in the hands of the White House but rather a security service. There is a process that needs to be worked through, and modernizing should part of it. Five White House former staff members are no longer employed due to potential security issues that have been raised during the process.

Legal recreational marijuana is spreading through more individual states as we speak. However, federally, marijuana is still an illegal substance.

Harris VP now supports making cannabis a legal substance which is seen as a break from the ideals of Biden, who has been heard supporting the actions of decriminalizing the herb and expunging marijuana records but fallen short of legalizing cannabis on a federal level countrywide.

Final thoughts

According to federal laws, marijuana is an illegal substance. However, most states in the U.S. allow some form of medical cannabis. There are two U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and 15 states to date, that have enacted laws to allow legal recreational cannabis. The whole picture needs to be looked at as other circumstances play an important role in this story.

The White House has a responsibility to maintain excellent security, and updating policies are a large part of that. Hundreds of aids were hired at the White House during Bidens two months in office and all were subjected to the same security policies. Of those hundreds, only five aides were dismissed for past cannabis use.

There is no clarity as to the additional information that was gained prior to this. So, the question now is, why is cannabis use the headline for dismissals in the White House at a time when new hiring guidelines are aimed at bridging the state-federal divide?

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