Biden staffers reprimanded, asked to resign for past marijuana use: report
Dozens of hopeful employees have allegedly been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program.
According to a new report, several White House staffers were allegedly been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use although the President Joe Biden administration claimed it would not be a factor.
The Daily Beast reported staffers from states and Washington D.C., where the use of cannabis is legal, were swept up in the crackdown. Sources informed the news outlet that a number of younger staffers were affected professionally after honestly answering questions on a lengthy background check.
“It’s exclusively targeting younger staff and staff who came from states where it was legal,” the former staffer said according to the Daily Beast.
“There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers—rather, ex-staffers,” a former White House staffer shared with the news outlet. They were affected by the policy. “I was asked to resign.”
Staffers shared with the Daily Beast the process was unclear and there were no strictly outlined protocol during the phone conversations.
“Nothing was ever explained,” they shared. The calls were made by White House Director of Management and Administration Anne Filipic. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained.”
When questioned about the policy, a White House spokesperson disputed how many staffers were impacted according to the Daily Beast.
The spokesperson noted the Biden administration has a more flexible policy than the previous presidents and stated they are “committed to bringing the best people into government—especially the young people whose commitment to public service can deepen in these positions.”
“The White House’s policy will maintain the absolute highest standards for service in government that the president expects from his administration, while acknowledging the reality that state and local marijuana laws have changed significantly across the country in recent years,” the spokesperson added according to the Daily Beast.
“This decision was made following intensive consultation with career security officials and will effectively protect our national security while modernizing policies to ensure that talented and otherwise well-qualified applicants with limited marijuana use will not be barred from serving the American people.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported as of Nov. 4, 2020, a total of 36 states and 4 territories have approved medical marijuana usage, with California being the first in 1996. As of March 1, 2021, 15 states and 3 territories have approved measures to regulate cannabis for adult-use. At the federal level, marijuana remains illegal.
According to NBC News, in February, the White House announced past marijuana use would not automatically disqualify anyone from being hired as staff. The White House would make decisions on a case-by-case basis and consider the option to waive a requirement that potential appointees in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) be eligible for a “Top Secret” clearance. The outlet reported, officials noted the waiver would only be granted to those who have used marijuana on a “limited” basis or in positions that don’t require a security clearance.
“President Biden is committed to bringing the best people into government — especially the young people whose commitment to public service can deepen in these positions and who can play leadership roles in our country for decades to come,” a White House official said in a statement to NBC News.
“The White House’s policy will maintain the absolute highest standards for service in government that the President expects from his administration while acknowledging the reality that state and local marijuana laws have changed significantly across the country in recent years.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement to the Daily Beast regarding the policy. Although she did not confirm how many staffers were let go, she did claim there were other factors that enforced the decision.
“In an effort to ensure that more people have an opportunity to serve the public, we worked in coordination with the security service to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. While we will not get into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated,” Psaki said.
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