WASHINGTON – In February, the Biden government signaled that marijuana had been used in the past wouldn’t necessarily disqualify a person out of employment by relaxing longstanding guidelines that have prevented some past drug users from working in the White House.
The change was seen as a way to open the door to younger talent from parts of the country where marijuana has been legalized. However, it only took a few weeks for the new guidelines to be publicly tested.
On Friday replies to a news report in The Daily Beast White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that some young workers had been pressured to resign because of their previous marijuana use or had been assigned to remote work because of their previous marijuana use.
“The bottom line is this,” said Ms. Psaki wrote on Twitter“Of the hundreds of employees, only five people who started in the White House are no longer employed because of these policies.”
As a result, it was highlighted how murky the new guidelines are, especially for a White House committed to taking progressive positions. A number of officials who have disclosed past marijuana use but are still allowed to work for the Biden government have been asked to sign a pledge not to use marijuana while working for the government, and they will also undergo random drug tests, officials said undergo. Not everyone who disclosed past marijuana use during a comprehensive background check was given the opportunity to move on.
President Biden’s advisers defended the policy, noting that previous administrations had taken tough measures, including President Barack Obama, who was a teenager who engaged in recreational drug use. The Obama administration required that the use be at least six months old in the past, or only two to three months in the past year.
However, critics saw a cultural conflict between a class of young new hires – who may have felt that past marijuana use would not pose a disqualifying problem – and Mr Biden’s historically more moderate stance on the drug. Despite everything, the use and possession of marijuana is still a federal crime rapidly growing public support legalize the drug.
“There are competing interests within government and politics that have been on the books for a very long time and are now coming into contact with new ideas and new people who want to change that policy,” said Udi Ofer, director of justice at American Civil Liberties Union. “Today we learned that it can still be a disqualifier.”
The five officers mentioned on Friday, Ms. Psaki, had been ordered to resign in part because of past marijuana use, according to a person familiar with the matter but unable to speak publicly. Some in this group also had other disqualifying factors that came up in determining their eligibility to receive administrative jobs, this person said.
About a dozen administrative officials have been assigned to work remotely until released to meet a new standard for past marijuana use set by White House officials who oversee staff safety. Officials did not detail this schedule on Friday.
The rules were published under guidance from the U.S. Department of Human Resources Management, which could affect how individuals qualify for employment in agencies across the federal government.
“It would be inconsistent with eligibility rules to implement a policy of determining an individual unsuitable or unsuitable for federal service based only on the timeliness of their marijuana use,” wrote Kathleen McGettigan, acting director of the agency. “Past marijuana use, including recently discontinued marijuana use, should be viewed differently from current marijuana use.”
Drug policy experts asked whether White House policies reflected that the Biden government would decriminalize marijuana more slowly and eradicate non-violent convictions related to marijuana, as Mr Biden had promised in the campaign.
Some also feared that other companies would follow the White House’s lead in filtering out employees for past marijuana use, even if some law enforcement agencies across the country relax their guidelines for new hires.
“It’s hard enough to get a job. This is just another matter,” said Maritza Perez, director of the National Affairs Bureau for the Drug Policy Alliance. “You would think we were in a different place now.”
Ms. Perez pointed out that Vice President Kamala Harris, a former Democratic Senator from California, won the support of those in the marijuana advocacy group when she helped promote sweeping laws that would decriminalize the drug and eradicate nonviolent convictions.
“I think this undermines that previous attitude,” said Ms. Perez.
While Mr Biden was slow to support the decriminalization of marijuana, Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, signaled support for legalization several times during her election campaign.
In a light-hearted moment that soon went viral, she even admitted that she “inhaled” marijuana in college on The Breakfast Club, a long-range radio show focusing on hip-hop and black culture. a long time ago.”
The time has passed since these statements and the actions against young administrative officials piqued proponents of criminal justice and the legalization of marijuana as to where the White House is.
“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 work together,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Bureau of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama administration, said the White House was already concerned about perceived leniency towards drug crimes.
After this Tell the Wall Street Journal in 2009 that the government wanted to end the idea of a “war on drugs”, Kerlikowske said he was rewarded with an angry phone call.
The next day, a young person from the White House communications office said, ‘Can you really say that? Won’t they think we are drug addicts? “Mr. Kerlikowske said. He told the White House staff that even his peer police chiefs would deviate from such messages.” The drug problems are always very sensitive.