White House Punishes Staffers Over Past Pot Use

Daily Beast reports that dozens were fired, suspended, or made to work remotely
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2021 2:05 PM CDT
White House Fired, Punished Past Pot Users: Report
The American flag files at half-staff at the White House, Thursday, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Biden is no fan of dopers, according to a report from the Daily Beast. The outlet reports "dozens of young White House staffers" have been fired, suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program because of past marijuana use, even in states where the drug is legal. As marijuana is illegal under federal law, past use may prevent certain security clearances, depending on how recent and frequent the use. But some staffers say they were initially told the administration would overlook past recreational use. This was in line with an NBC News report from February, though it noted cases would be evaluated individually. The Beast reports staffers were fired or put on probation for admitting to past use during background checks. "I was asked to resign," says a former staffer, adding "the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained."

Staffers have also been let go from past administrations because of earlier marijuana use. The Biden administration actually raised the tolerance of past use and "approved limited exemptions for candidates whose positions don't require security clearances," per the Beast. But Tommy Vietor, who was spokesperson of the National Security Council under President Obama, says it's "absurd" that past marijuana use is still an issue. Press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Friday that the White House "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” and "only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy." A senior White House official tells CNN that many of those cases involved other issues, including hard drug use. (More White House stories.)

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