A day after The Daily Beast reported that the White House had disqualified potential staff for past marijuana use, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were already reporting disapproval and potential investigations into the policy.
“I want to know how and why this happened, and I’m obviously going to urge them to change course,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) told The Daily Beast on Friday.
Huffman said most of the United States had “moved beyond Jeff Sessions’ reefer madness hysteria,” and noted that medical or recreational cannabis was now legal in most states and in the United States. Washington. “This administration has promised a more enlightened approach, but somewhere along the line it has gone back to dogma,” he said.
The White House said in February that admitting past marijuana use on background check forms would not automatically disqualify applicants for White House jobs. But several knowledgeable sources told the Daily Beast that dozens were fired, placed on probation or placed in a remote work program because they admitted to using drugs before.
Late Thursday evening, Bradley Moss, a national security attorney (who in the past has handled FOIA disputes separately for some news outlets, including The Daily Beast), said in a brief interview that he had been contacted by several people from Biden’s staff to discuss this matter.
“I can say that more than one individual has now been burned down by the bureaucratic realities of entering government service in the Biden administration,” Moss said. However, he added: “At the moment, we are not involved in any type of [legal] procedure related to this specific issue for a Biden staff member. “
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Friday that of the hundreds of people hired in the administration, only five who had started working in the White House are “no longer employed because of this policy.” .
But she did not respond to claims that dozens more were barred from joining the White House after admitting their past use of marijuana.
“In order to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve the public, we have worked in coordination with the security service to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than in the past with the same level of consumption of recent drug. Psaki told the Daily Beast on Friday. “While we did not address the individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many cases for the small number of people who were made redundant.”
These explanations do not seem to have satisfied the legislators.
“What is happening now is a living illustration of unrealistic, unfair and out of touch cannabis policies,” Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told the Daily Beast. “There is confusion across the country due to outdated laws and the fact that the American public is not waiting for the federal government to act. This is an opportunity for the Biden administration to help end the failed drug war and craft a more rational policy for all.
Blumenauer continued that the direction of marijuana laws in America indicated that it was becoming more legal, not less, and that he hoped Biden’s White House would find a “fair and realistic” way forward.
“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,” he said.
Other Democrats have focused on how this policy could disproportionately affect minority staff and make the White House less diverse.
“This is an absurd policy that will prevent law-abiding people, especially people of color, from pursuing a career in public service,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) told the Daily Beast. “It is all the more unfair that many of these staff members applied for their security clearance knowing that past marijuana use would not be held against them.
A significant part of the controversy over White House policy is its overthrow. Telling potential employees that disclosing past marijuana use would not be disqualifying, and then using those disclosures to disqualify staff appears to be patently unfair. And lawmakers seem to have been particularly offended by the possibility that staff members may have used marijuana legally and then been punished for it by the White House.
“This is yet another reason the federal government needs to catch up with the 36 states, four territories and the District of Columbia that have already legalized the use of cannabis in one form or another,” Representative Peter DeFazio said Friday. (GOLDEN). “People who legally consume cannabis and choose to serve in the federal government should not be punished for the government’s archaic laws. It is time for the Luddits to join us in the 21st century.
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