The firings of several White House staffers who admitted to smoking marijuana in the past is hypocritical, considering 2 past presidents and the current vice president have also acknowledged prior use, according to Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., who says he is also a former user, says.
"I have in the past smoked marijuana," Jones told the New York Daily News after he and 29 other House Democrats sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking the staffers get their jobs back. "I do not currently smoke marijuana, but if I did it wouldn't be a problem."
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed five staff members were fired after admitting to using marijuana in the past. She commented on Twitter the White House had worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure past marijuana use would not automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House, but still, "out 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."
However, sources said dozens of more employees were either suspended or put in a remote work program.
"Prior presidents of the United States and the current vice president have admitted to prior marijuana use," Jones said, referring to former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Marijuana is legal in 36 states for either medical or recreational use, or both, and others are about to join them, including New York, and Jones said its use does not impair the "ability to perform a job or [their] trustworthiness."
He also commented the firings do not match up with the president's promises for social justice, and said there is also a historical context of Black and Hispanic Americans facing more harsh consequences for marijuana use than white people do.
"This is simply an old school retrograde policy that flies in the face of the president's commitments," said Jones, adding he and other House Democrats have not heard back from the White House about the letter.
"A cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment, and contributing to society," the letter said. "You can meet this moment and help end our failed punitive policy of cannabis prohibition."
The White House did not respond with a comment about Jones' statements, but when talking about the staffing procedures said in a statement last week the Biden administration's position on marijuana use is far more accepting position on marijuana use than other administrations had in the past.
"The White House's policy will maintain the absolute highest standards for service in government that the president expects from his administration while acknowledging the reality that state and local marijuana laws have changed significantly across the country in recent years," the statement said. "This decision was made following intensive consultation with career security officials and will effectively protect our national security while modernizing policies to ensure that talented and otherwise well-qualified applicants with limited marijuana use will not be barred from serving the American people."
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