Protesters rally in support of the legalization of marijuana in front of The White House in Washington DC on April 2, 2016. Editorial credit: Rena Schild /


Lawmakers examine White House pot policy

Past use of pot shouldn't make executive branch employees subject to negative employment actions, 30 House Democrats told President Joe Biden.

Some Biden White House staffers have been subject to suspensions, placement on remote work and been asked to resign after disclosing past marijuana use since the start of the administration. The Daily Beastfirst reported the personnel actions last week, saying that this had happened to dozens of employees.

Five employees have been terminated, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a group of 30 lawmakers wrote to the White House asking the president to undo these actions and take steps to prevent similar occurrences. The letter was led by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

"We ask that you clarify your employment suitability policies, remove past cannabis use as a potential disqualifier, and apply these policies with consistency and fairness," they wrote, saying that they were "dismayed."

The administration had previously signaled that it would waive the usual rules that keep appointees with a history of pot from getting some security clearances, the lawmakers wrote.

Last month, OPM issued guidance on marijuana use. The office instructed agencies to treat previous use of the drug on a case-by-case basis, although continued use can still be a disqualifier. Pot is still illegal under federal law despite movement toward some legalization or decriminalization in states. A Reagan administration executive order on drug-free workplaces, which says that those using illegal drugs "are not suitable for federal employment" is still on the books.

The lawmakers, however, pointed to the legalization of cannabis for adults or medical use in 36 states, including recent legalization via ballot initiatives.

"The American people are demanding a change to punitive and harsh cannabis laws that have always been unequally applied," they wrote.

The lawmakers also pointed to the admission of former President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to using pot in the past.

"Those in the upper ranks of your administration won't face consequences for their cannabis use, and nor should they, but the same standard should be applied across the administration," they wrote. "Your administration should act within its power to stop legitimizing unfair cannabis laws."

The former staffers who were fired had also raised "other security issues," Psaki said on Wednesday.

She pointed to the illegal status of marijuana use on a federal level when asked about why the president can't unilaterally change policies. Psaki also said that the administration has current employees who wouldn't have been able to serve under the policies of previous administrations.

"Because of our efforts to modernize and work with the security service, they're able to serve," she said. "In the past – and I served in the Obama-Biden administration – the rules were actually far more stringent."

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 7, 2021

Dopes use dope, more brain dead millennials.

Thu, Apr 1, 2021

Federal regulations indicate that pot use is illegal. This is the current law and those who want to work for the federal government and contractors should be aware of the regulations and abide. If you want to use pot then seek a job in which it does not matter if you are stoned or doped up.

Wed, Mar 31, 2021 Sergio CA

If you are still using, you need to be let go from your federal job. Now, depending when you stopped and can prove that you are no longer using, your agency can take a look at your work performance and evaluate whether to let you go or keep you. Marijuana is very addictive and can affect you severely and put fellow co-workers in danger, depending on your job, that is.

Wed, Mar 31, 2021

Having the democrats admit they are high at least part of the time explains a lot.

Wed, Mar 31, 2021

No surprise here. Most of the new young leftie congress critters are secret pot smokers anyway. The Green New Deal proves it!

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