POLITICS

Psaki Defends White House Firing Staffers Over Marijuana Use: 'It Is Still Illegal Federally'

Pot use is legal in over a dozen states and the Biden administration had said that past weed consumption would not “automatically” be disqualifying.

The White House defended its firing of five White House staffers over past marijuana use, with press secretary Jen Psaki suggesting that “other security issues” had factored into employees being let go. 

At a Wednesday press briefing, a reporter pressed Psaki on the Biden administration terminating five employees over previous marijuana consumption, even though staff were “led to believe pot use would not be disqualifying.” 

Psaki insisted that the administration had worked with the security service, “which makes this determination” and that “in the past, the rules were actually far more stringent.” 

“Marijuana is legal in a number of states across the country — it is still illegal federally,” Psaki said, adding that in terms of the five people no longer employed, for “a number of them, there were other security issues that were raised.”

Psaki insisted that other team members who would not have been able to serve in previous administrations due to stricter policies were currently working for President Joe Biden. 

“If marijuana was federally legal, that would be a different circumstance,” Psaki said. 

Over a dozen states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. 

In 2019, then-Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke of her own previous marijuana use, saying that the drug “gives a lot of people joy,” and supported it being legalized at the federal level.

Biden has not backed federal legalization of marijuana, instead supporting decriminalizing its use.

The Daily Beast reported last week that dozens of Biden administration staffers were disciplined, and some asked to resign, due to their past marijuana use.  

Psaki defended the decision late last week, pointing to the administration’s original announcement saying that marijuana use wouldn’t “automatically” be disqualifying. She also confirmed then that five people who had started working at the White House were “no longer employed as a result of this policy.” 

HuffPost did not immediately get a response to a request for further comment.