White House confirms five staff fired for using cannabis in the past

The Daily Beast has reported that others have been suspended or ordered to work remotely.

fired staff biden

President Joe Biden promised to decriminalize weed at the federal level but that didn't save some who wanted to serve in his administration. White House photo


White House press secretary Jen Psaki says more former weed users will be able to work for Joe Biden administration than for previous presidents. But that’s no comfort to five White House staff who were fired for violating rules around consuming cannabis.

Psaki stated over Twitter that the White House has “worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving”.

“As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use,” Psaki continued. “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.”

Her statement did not use the word “fired”.

Psaki’s message came after the Daily Beast reported that dozens of young White House staff members have been punished for prior weed use. The publication noted that they’ve been “suspended, asked to resign, or forced to work remotely”.

People can legally use cannabis for recreational purposes in 14 states. Patients have access to legal cannabis for medical use in 35 states. However, weed remains illegal at the federal level in the United States.

When Biden served as senator representing Delaware, he’s was a hardline prohibitionist. But as the Democratic nominee in 2020, he softened his position considerably.

Prior to the election, he proposed to decriminalize recreational weed at the federal level. In addition, he pledged not to meddle if states legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Democratic backlash over fired staff

At least one Democrat on Capitol Hill expressed frustration that people have been fired for previous cannabis use.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a vocal proponent of the cannabis industry, described the dismissals as “a vivid illustration of unrealistic, unfair, and out of touch cannabis policies”.

“There’s confusion across the U.S. because of antiquated laws and the fact that the American public isn’t waiting for the federal govt. to get its act together,” Blumenauer tweeted.

He added that there’s an opportunity for the Biden administration to end the “failed” war on drugs.

Charlie Smith

I'm the editor of the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, as well as a CannCentral contributor.

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