Five White House staff have been fired for their past use of drugs, including marijuana, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
Marijuana has become a sensitive issue for President Joe Biden’s administration because 15 states and Washington, DC, allow its recreational use, despite a federal ban.
The administration has tried not to automatically penalize potential employees for legal behaviour in their communities by developing a more flexible policy, Psaki said in a statement to the Associated Press.
While marijuana use is legal in many states, it is still illegal on the federal level, which can present a hurdle in the federal security clearance process.
The Daily Beast was the first to report on the Biden White House’s terminations and sidelining of staff who admitted to marijuana use, CNN reported.
The White House underscored on Friday that it has eased some restrictions in its security clearance policy to be more lenient about employing individuals with a history of drug use.
Two sources said it was suggested to some during the presidential transition period that previous marijuana use might not disqualify individuals from serving in the White House. One source said the marijuana policy was not made clear to staffers before filling out their questionnaires.