In March of this year, at least five members of the Biden administration had their employment terminated, at least in part for admitting to past marijuana use. To be clear, cannabis remains 100% illegal under federal law. While that is not in question, this move represents a philosophical approach to the cannabis plant on the part of the Biden administration that has been disappointing, to say the least.
Now, there may be more to the story of why these staffers got fired, but let’s take stock. We have had more than one POTUS admit to past cannabis use. Not to mention, we have a sitting Vice President who has admitted to cannabis use. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who is charged with maintaining secrecy and operating at the highest levels of discretion changed this policy over a decade ago.
The bureau's pot-smoking standard, in place for at least 13 years, was revised after internal debate about whether the policy was eliminating prospects because of drug experimentation. In 2014, the FBI Director put out a public proclamation – “Don't Let Weed Stop You from Applying to the FBI.”As cyber wars heat up, groups like the FBI may be forced to turn to people who like to get a little heated to stay ahead of the curve. As recently as 2019, the federal government put out press releases concerning this topic and a National Security representative confessed, “I used to smoke weed in high school,” to The Register. “Now, so long as you can pass a drug test and don’t do them anymore, then it won’t hurt your application.”
So what’s different about this White House?
This is an administration whose VP was a lead sponsor on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. While it has not yet been enacted into law, the Act removes marijuana from the List of Controlled Substances. Further, the MORE Act seeks to codify the fact that people who have utilized cannabis should not suffer societal implications for such use – by its very language. Wouldn’t letting people apply and get government jobs despite prior usage be a prime area for reform?
This move from the White House doesn’t make any sense. The stigma and misinformation concerning the cannabis plant has been substantially reformed – and especially embraced by Democrats. Approved in August 2020, their platform called for decriminalizing and rescheduling marijuana through executive action, with support for legalizing medical marijuana and expunging past criminal convictions for cannabis-related offences.
We have Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer actively calling for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The UN has reclassified cannabis. And the 2020 election saw a green wave of 6 states pass cannabis reform measures.
What’s cancelled going on with Biden’s perspective on the cannabis plant? Does he blame his son Hunter’s substance abuse on cannabis? Unfortunately, Biden seems to be immersed in the "drug gateway conundrum." This is sad because the gateway drug theory has been disavowed and debunked.
Perhaps Joe is ten years behind the curve. It’s time to wake and smell the coffee. This is a global industry that is generating billions in revenue, employing thousands of Americans, and capturing much-needed tax dollars. Not to mention, cannabis reform, and equity licensing programs can perhaps begin to remedy the social and racial injustices that have been perpetrated by American drug policy. As of late, equity has been at the heart of shaping cannabis legalization policy in states around the country, including Illinois and Massachusetts. And, of course, is a major tenet of the MORE Act. Get with the times, Mr President.