Dozens of White House staffers have been “suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use,” the Daily Beast reported Thursday. According to three unnamed sources, staffers were led to believe that a history of using weed would not disqualify them from working in President Joe Biden’s administration only to now face repercussions.
The employees under scrutiny disclosed their previous weed use during the White House’s background-check process. Some of these staffers had a history of marijuana use in states and cities that have legalized pot, including DC. Although weed legalization has continued to spread across the country in various ways (including medical and recreational use), smoking pot is still federally illegal and it has previously led to similar White House staffing challenges (see: Obama administration heavy-hitters Ben Rhodes and Alyssa Mastromonaco).
One anonymous former staffer told the Daily Beast that Anne Filipic, director of management and administration at the White House, called and asked the staffer to resign with little explanation. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” the staffer said.
According to the Daily Beast, the Biden administration has reportedly relaxed some rules around weed use, such as upping the number of “allowable instances” that someone might have smoked in the past and allowing exemptions for those who would not need security clearances. Still, some former staffers said the changes were unclear, and the rules around marijuana use in federal jobs really depends on the agency.
A White House spokesperson told the Daily Beast that decisions to suspend staffers or ask them to resign were “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.”