Friday, 19 March 2021

Biden administration removes dozens of staffers from White House who admitted to using cannabis in states where it's legal despite telling them they would NOT be punished

 The White House has removed young staffers who have smoked pot – despite them having been informally told that past highs would be overlooked, it has been revealed.

The Biden administration has suspended dozens of young staffers, asked them to resign or placed in a remote work program – including those who exclusively used cannabis in states where it is legal, Daily Beast reported. 

Young staffers were fired because they revealed on official documents during background checks they had smoked weed even though some were informally told that the new administration would overlook past use, sources told the outlet.

The White House has weeded out young staffers who have smoked pot \u2013 despite them having been informally told that past highs would be overlooked

The White House has weeded out young staffers who have smoked pot – despite them having been informally told that past highs would be overlooked

Recreational marijuana use \u2013 which remains illegal federally - is often a disqualifying factor for security clearances

Recreational marijuana use – which remains illegal federally - is often a disqualifying factor for security clearances

'It's exclusively targeting younger staff and staff who came from states where it was legal,' a former staffer said.

Recreational marijuana use – which remains illegal federally – has been fully legalized in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state – as well as D.C.

'There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers—rather, ex-staffers. I was asked to resign,' a staffer told The Daily Beast.

The staffer added 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,' the staffer said.


Biden's marijuana policies for staffers requiring security clearances may prove controversial.

Former President Barack Obama admitted in his first book, Dreams From My Father, that he used marijuana and 'maybe a little blow' before entering politics, The New York Times reported. Blow typically is slang for cocaine.

Obama had noted that he did not try heroin because he did not like the person who tried to sell it to him.

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.

Former President Barack Obama admitted in his first book, Dreams From My Father, that he used marijuana
Obama said he also used\u00A0 \'maybe a little blow\' before entering politics

Former President Barack Obama admitted in his first book, Dreams From My Father, that he used marijuana and 'maybe a little blow' before entering politics, The New York Times reported. 

Gov. Cuomo announced proposal to legalize marijuana in New York
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NBC News reported in February 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 waive a requirement that potential staffers, who have used marijuana on a 'limited' basis and do not need a security clearance for their role, would need to meet the conditions to be eligible for a 'Top Secret' clearance.

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. 

Different agencies within the United States government have varying allowances for past marijuana use in order to obtain clearances.  

The FBI conducts supplemental interviews with family and friends of a clearance applicant and lying on the application form is a felony.

However, disclosure and clearance approval often comes down to the honor system if a job candidate seeking a security clearance has not faced prior drug-related criminal convictions.

Some of recent Biden White House firings may have happened if the applicant lied or otherwise misstated past marijuana use.

Daily Beast noted that some security clearance disqualifiers have been eliminated in the past – including nude photos of a candidate – as agencies adapt to cultural and legal changes in a bid to modernize.

Both the Trump and Obama administrations had already increased the allowable number of times a candidate may have used marijuana in the past.

President Joe Biden can overrule agencies if a candidate has been deemed not qualified to receive security clearances.

However, President Trump received swift backlash when he granted his son-in-law Jared Kushner a top secret clearance over objections from intelligence officials.

Tommy Vietor, who served as spokesperson for the National Security Council from 2011 to 2013, told Daily Beast that considering past marijuana use is 'absurd' in 2021.

'I find it absurd that, in 2021, marijuana use is still part of a security clearance background check,' Vietor told the outlet.

'To me, marijuana use is completely irrelevant when you're trying to decide whether an individual should be trusted with national security information.'

A White House spokesperson said the Biden administration is 'committed to bringing the best people into government - especially the young people whose commitment to public service can deepen in these positions,' Daily Beast reported.

The White House noted that how it handles past marijuana use is 'much more flexible than previous administrations,' according to the outlet.

'The White House's policy will maintain 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,' the spokesperson said. 

'This decision was made following intensive consultation with career security officials and will effectively protect our national security while modernizing policies to ensure that talented and otherwise well-qualified applicants with limited marijuana use will not be barred from serving the American people.'

Mexico is expected to pass a law legalizing marijuana as early as next month that marijuana industry advocates claim will push the Biden administration to legalize it at the federal level in the United States, the Miami Herald reported. 

Canada authorized the possession, sale and distribution of marijuana products two years ago, according to the outlet.

If Mexico's law passes, the United States would be stuck between two countries that allow marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

It remains unclear if and how soon security clearance policies would change if marijuana becomes legalized for medical and recreational use at the federal level. 

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