WASHINGTON, D.C. – An article published in The Daily Beast today reports that the Biden Administration has suspended, transferred, or requested the resignations of numerous employees in various White House roles, predominantly younger people for whom state-legal cannabis programs have been a reality for a significant portion of their lives. This includes Washington, D.C., where cannabis has been legal to possess and cultivate since 2014.
Recent guidance from the Office of Personnel Management advised federal employers not to view past cannabis use as an automatic disqualifier for otherwise qualified job candidates. President Biden has expressed support for decriminalizing cannabis both before and after the election. Vice President Harris has publicly supported legalizing and regulating cannabis, and was the lead Senate sponsor of the MORE Act in the last Congress, which would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances.
“While we may not know all the details of these cases, this looks really bad for the White House,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Punishing current and potential employees for past cannabis use, particularly under circumstances where it was protected by state laws, flies in the face of the Administration’s purported emphasis on fairness and sensible cannabis policies, to say nothing of its very recent guidance to federal agencies in this area. At the very least, this sends the wrong message to federal personnel managers, as well as policymakers and employers across the country.”
“Three of the last five presidents – including the current president’s former boss – have admitted to consuming cannabis,” Smith continued. “The idea that past use would make a person unfit for service in the White House or ineligible for a security clearance is laughable.”
Cannabis is legal for adults in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states. Cannabis policy reform legislation is being considered in dozens of states this year, and lawmakers in Virginia recently approved a bill to legalize and regulate adult use.