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Several White House staffers suspended or asked to resign over past marijuana use

3 months 3 days 4 hours ago Thursday, March 18 2021 Mar 18, 2021 March 18, 2021 11:00 PM March 18, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

Several White House staffers were either suspended, asked to resign, or removed from their in-person position to work remotely as a result of recent background checks.

The drastic measures were all due to an official glimpse into their backgrounds revealing that they'd used marijuana in the past, according to CNN. The news outlet stated that five people are no longer employed at the White House, while additional staffers are working remotely as their "suitability clearance" is pending.

A senior White House official explained that in many of the cases involving staffers who are no longer employed, additional security factors also played a role, such as use of hard drugs.

Two of CNN's sources who were familiar with the situation told reporters that each of the staffers were informed of the decisions over the course of the past month.

Though marijuana use is legal in many states, it is still illegal on a federal level.

The Daily Beast was the first to report on the Biden White House's terminations and sidelining of staff who admitted to marijuana use.

Staffers who require a security clearance at the White House must complete a detailed background check questionnaire, which includes questions about marijuana and other drugs.

On this form, applicants are asked to detail the type of drugs or controlled substances they've used as well as the frequency with which they've taken such drugs.  

Two of CNN's sources said it was suggested to some during the presidential transition period that previous marijuana use might not disqualify them from serving in the White House, and one source said the marijuana policy was not made clear to staffers before they completed their questionnaires.

Despite this recent situation, on Friday the White House underscored its intention to relax certain restrictions in relation to its security clearance policies regarding the hiring of employees with a history of drug use.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Friday that the White House "worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn't automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House."

"As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use," she added. "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."

In a statement to CNN, Psaki said: "While we will not get into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated."

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