Did Joe Biden’s cannabis policy just go up in smoke? Or was this a Biden gaffe? What is going on in the Biden White House in the year 2021 when more than half the states including Washington D.C. have legalized medical or adult use cannabis but the Biden White House has fired staffers for past weed use?
Worse yet, his own Vice President has admitted to smoking weed and admitted that “it gives a lot of people joy” and Biden served with Barack Obama who has copped to getting high with his “pot smoking choom gang”. So WTF?
What is going on in the Biden White House when just a few days ago Chuck Schumer has vowed to make marijuana reform a priority for Congress and it’s not the first time he has. https://nypost.com/2021/03/18/schumer-says-he-will-introduce-a-marijuana-reform-bill/
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he wants to make the “long overdue” issue of marijuana reform a priority for Congress, saying it will provide “justice” for those harmed by harsh cannabis laws.”
“The New York Democrat released a video on his Twitter account Thursday featuring a conversation with Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon about the ills of marijuana laws and to announce that they would be introducing their legislation in the coming days.”
So what exactly did happen at the White House?
According to the Daily Beast dozens of staffers were canned for past weed use on March 19.
“Dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use, frustrating staffers who were pleased by initial indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of cannabis would not be immediately disqualifying for would-be personnel, according to three people familiar with the situation.”
“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. Sources familiar with the matter also said a number of young staffers were either put on probation or canned because they revealed past marijuana use in an official document they filled out as part of the lengthy background check for a position in the Biden White House.”
“In some cases, staffers were informally told by transition higher-ups ahead of formally joining the administration that they would likely overlook some past marijuana use, only to be asked later to resign.”
Later Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said “only five” people were fired for past weed use. In my humble opinion that is five too many. You can’t have it both ways. The administration is either moving forward with reform or they are not. And if they are then reform starts at “home”.
“The terminations first reported Thursday night received criticism from fellow Democrats who view the policy as overly harsh and outdated.”
“Psaki insisted on Twitter that the Biden administration actually was being more lenient toward cannabis use.”
“We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had 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,” Psaki tweeted.”
“As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”
Why then were the five fired? What was it about them? It’s not like they committed armed robbery or espionage – they never would have made it into the White House in the first place.
“In additional statements to The Daily Beast, Psaki admitted that “there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated.””
“As for what those “factors” were, she did not say.”
It seems like the White House is trying to play catch up or make up the rules as they go along, basically not knowing where they want to stand on cannabis policy within their own walls. That is a sad state of affairs considering Biden has surrounded himself with top officials who have copped to getting high and he could have some empathy and open mindedness for those who may use cannabis as medicine for mental wellness reasons. He is no stranger to people who struggle with mental health issues.
“A terminated staffer said, however, that it’s unclear what the current policy is toward past or current pot use or toward people who use the drug in compliance with state laws.”
“The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” the fired aide told the Daily Beast.”
“The now-former staffer added, “It’s exclusively targeting younger staff and staff who came from states where it was legal.”
Is the White House trying to have it both ways: make the right noises about reforming drug policy as long as those reforms stay out of the White House? This is one time where the President has to put his policy where his mouth is and this gaffe does not fly.
“While Biden has long been an opponent of cannabis reform—and is “credited” with helping create the drug war, along with the subsequent incarceration crisis—the firings and suspensions seem to contradict the White House’s own policies.”
“In February, the White House Office of Personnel Management clarified that past marijuana use was not an automatic disqualifier, and that federal agencies “should exercise special care before making a determination of unsuitability” for employment due to past weed use.”
“It was not immediately clear whether the cannabis use was recreational or medical, legal or illegal. One staffer indicated that it may not have mattered.”
No, it does not matter. All recreational use has underlying medicinal value. And in 2021 when cannabis has been proven to be an antidote for the ongoing opioid crisis perhaps the White House needs to rethink this antiquated policy and reinstate these staffers.
“However, studies have consistently shown that in states where medical marijuana is legal, doctors write fewer opioid prescriptions and patients consume lower doses of opioids. (One study released in 2018 found evidence that states with legal medical marijuana saw fewer prescriptions for weaker “schedule III” opioids but not the more addictive and powerful schedule II drugs.)”
This blunder will prove hopefully to be a blessing in disguise and push Congress to finally legalize cannabis a lot sooner so that something like this does not continue to happen.
“The White House attempted to defend the shocking policy announcement with a blanket and somewhat confusing statement about “maintaining 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.”
“Democratic Congress members pushed back immediately.”
“Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, called the move unrealistic, unfair, and out of touch.”
“This is an opportunity for the Biden administration to help end the failed War on Drugs and make a more rational policy for everyone,” Rep. Blumenauer told High Times via an emailed statement.
“This is where America is going and I hope they figure out a path forward that is fair and realistic. In the meantime, these young people should not be singled out and discriminated against for something that is legal in much of the country and supported by the vast majority of Americans,” said Rep. Blumenauer.”
Amen to that!
Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)