By Quentin Choy
March 19, 2021
According to The Daily Beast, dozens of White House staffers have been “suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program” because of marijuana use in the past. Many staffers, most of whom are young were told that they wouldn’t be immediately disqualified for recreational usage of marijuana. Marijuana is legal in 14 states and in the District of Columbia, although a federal ban is still observed.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki attempted to downplay the staffers’ resignations, tweeting “As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. 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.”
However, Psaki did not discuss the other punishments potentially faced by staffers who were not forced to resign. While recreational marijuana legalization is supported by 67 percent of Americans according to a 2019 Pew Research poll, Biden and Harris are some of the most well-known opponents to legalization because of their pasts.
Biden, who once served as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee has said that he believes marijuana is a gateway drug, and he is one of the few Democrats who have not endorsed cannabis legalization federally. Being one of the primary players in the War on Drugs and in the creation of the disastrous 1994 Crime Bill, I am not holding my breath for Biden to acknowledge this easy “political lay-up” in legalizing marijuana at the federal level, which has vast support from Democrats, Republicans, and other demographics. No matter which way you split the population, legalization is popular.
Harris, who served as the Attorney General of California and as a prosecutor had her record infamously dismantled by former representative and presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard during a Democratic Primary Debate in 2020. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” said Gabbard as Harris took the heat, staring into the camera.
These staffers should not face any punishment for their usage of marijuana, especially if it was past usage. Biden’s White House fired five too many staffers, and I’m sure these staffers are smart enough to separate their professional lives from their personal lives as so many marijuana users are able to do. I hope that these staffers are brought back into the White House, and if they aren’t, I hope they can use their experiences to support the popular cause of cannabis legalization by lobbying the president and members of Congress. I also hope that Biden-Harris can get on the same page as the majority of Americans and legalize marijuana on the federal level, earning them an easy political winner, freeing non-violent drug offenders, and freeing themselves from their unpopular, dated Biden-Harris past.
Image Courtesy of NPR.