During a press briefing on Tuesday, in response to a question from a reporter about whether or not President Biden supports Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s efforts to end federal prohibition, Psaki said: “He spoke about this on the campaign: he believes in decriminalizing the use of marijuana, but his position has not changed.”
Recently, the fact that Biden’s stance on cannabis is out of step with most Democrats, and most Americans for that matter, has made headlines.
A story by the Daily Beast earlier this month reported that the White House fired staffers for admitting to marijuana use, causing a stir among Democrats and highlighted how out of sync federal laws on cannabis are as 15 states now allow for recreational marijuana sales.
Last week, Psaki said: “No one has been let go due to marijuana usage from years ago. No one has been let go due to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.”
Psaki said that about a dozen White House staffers have continued serving in the Administration who would not have been permitted under prior Administration’s policies.
Despite this month’s firings, it appears the Biden Administration has made its marijuana policies less strict. In February, the White House Office of Personnel Management clarified that past marijuana use was not an automatic disqualifier and explained that federal agencies can “exercise special care before making a determination of unsuitability” for employment due to past marijuana use.
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The policy for the Biden White House staffers allows for up to 15 past uses in a year, the Associated Press reported. The White house also told the AP that there are often multiple factors for terminations, including use of hard drugs.
Even still, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, released a statement after the Daily Beast article condemning the layoffs.
“What’s happening now is a vivid illustration of unrealistic, unfair, and out of touch cannabis policies. There is confusion across the country because of out of date laws and the fact that the American public is not waiting for the federal government to get its act together,” said Blumenauer. “This is an opportunity for the Biden administration to help end the failed War on Drugs and make a more rational policy for everyone. This is where America is going and I hope they figure out a path forward that is fair and realistic. In the meantime, these young people should not be singled out and discriminated against for something that is legal in much of the country and supported by the vast majority of Americans.”
For anyone who knows Biden and his stance on marijuana and other drugs, none of this was unexpected. (Throughout his career, Biden has supported harsh drug laws and harsh punishments.)
Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, who’s a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Politico that she was not surprised by the recent firings related to marijuana.
“They did not support descheduling and legalization,” Lee said, referring to Biden’s campaign when she worked with them on the Democratic party platform.
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