Dozens of White House staffers who have history of marijuana case have been made to resign, suspended or placed in remote work program although despite they being informally told that past highs would be overlooked, according to a new report. The Daily Beast on Thursday reported that President Joe Biden's administration lately made a u-turn after having previously indicated that recreational use of marijuana would not automatically disqualify a staffer.
The policy has even affected staffers whose marijuana use was exclusive to one of the 14 states—and the District of Columbia—where cannabis is legal. The White House reportedly never explained its marijuana policy to staffers, offering no details on what amount of past use would be excusable.
According to the Daily Beast report, several young staffers were fired because they had revealed on official documents during background checks they had smoked weed. Of these many were even informally told that the new administration would overlook past use. However, that didn't happen and the Biden administration lately decided to fire them.
"It's exclusively targeting younger staff and staff who came from states where it was legal," a former staffer said. "There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers—rather, ex-staffers. I was asked to resign," another staffer told the outlet.
Interestingly, the staffer said that "nothing was ever explained" on firing calls led by Anne Filipic, the House director of management and administration. "The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained," he said.
Now that the staffers were removed without being given any explanation and that too after being initially told that there cases of marijuana use in the past would be overlooked, may prove to be controversial for the Biden administration.
It's natural that many of the staffers who were removed come from states where cannabis use is legal and hence they never broke the law even if they used it. Even former President Barrack Obama had revealed in his book that he used he used marijuana and cocaine before entering politics, according to a New York Times report.
Last month, NBC News reported that the White House would issue new guidelines after it identified recreational marijuana use was a hurdle for young applicants. The White House revealed that it would "on a case-by-case basis" waive a requirement preventing past marijuana use allowing potential appointees in the Executive Office of the President be eligible for a "Top Secret" clearance.
However, the recent firings now paint a different picture. It isn't clear how these firings and other punishments square with the report of the Biden administration deciding to go easy on past marijuana use.
Biden's marijuana policies for staffers requiring security clearances may prove controversial. In fact, Biden's own son Hunter has struggled with drug addiction and received an administrative discharge from the U.S. Navy Reserves in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine use.
A White House spokesperson reportedly told the Daily Beast that the Biden administration is more flexible on past marijuana use than previous administrations. But that doesn't seem to be the case now. It is still unclear how soon security clearance policies would change if marijuana becomes legalized for medical and recreational use at the federal level.