By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
Evidently, the Joe Biden administration has a zero-tolerance policy for the use of marijuana and for employees who may have experimented with it in their past.
Several White House staffers were reportedly suspended, put on probation, or asked to resign after honestly disclosing past cannabis use. Responding to the White House in a letter, a faction of lawmakers, including Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), asked the administration to “rectify instances” or “clarify its employment suitability policies” regarding marijuana.
“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,” the letter read. “Repercussions for cannabis use have always been unequal and those with the most power have always faced the fewest consequences. We ask that you don’t allow that pattern to continue within your administration.”
Led by the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Lee and 29 other members of Congress signed on to the letter, including Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Don Beyer (D-Virginia), Mondaire Jones (D-New York), and Jared Huffman (D-California).
A total of six members of California’s congressional delegation are among the letter’s signees.
They firmly asked the White House to remove cannabis use as a potential disqualifier for staffers and apply its security clearance policies with consistency and fairness. The letter was written in earnest and alluded to the fact that former Presidents Clinton and Obama admitted to trying cannabis. So did Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Vice President Kamala Harris is also on the record revealing that she too once smoked marijuana.
Harris made the admission during a segment on the Breakfast Club radio show when she was on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate.
“I have (smoked marijuana). And I inhaled. I did inhale,” Harris said on the radio program hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God. “I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.”
Harris also said that she supported legalizing marijuana at the federal level in 2019.
The White House has confirmed that five staffers have been dismissed for past marijuana use.
Under federal laws, cannabis is illegal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the dismissal on March 19 through her Twitter account. She also reported that the White House updated its plan of action.
“We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had worked with the Secret Service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House,” Psaki stated. “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.
In their letter to President Biden dated March 26, the lawmakers noted that cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states. In addition, the letter stated that “more than 50% of the adult population” have used cannabis during their lifetimes.
“That includes former presidents and current senior officials,” the letter said.
Since it started polling marijuana issues and policies in 1969, a Gallup poll showed 68 %of Americans support legalization. The Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that actively promotes drug policy reform legislation, wants Biden to remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances. The Congressional Cannabis Caucus is making the request, too.
“While we work to deschedule cannabis legislatively, your administration should act within its power to stop legitimizing unfair cannabis laws,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden. “You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgment that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment, and contributing to society. You can meet this moment and help end our failed punitive policy of cannabis prohibition.”