White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took to social media on Friday to address rumors of the White House's marijuana policy and subsequent weeding out of recently-hired personnel.
"We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had 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," Psaki tweeted, originally linking to a February NBC News article on the previous announcement.
"As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use," she added. Without directly speaking of the reports, Psaki detailed that "only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy."
The White House press secretary issued a separate statement to the Daily Beast, reiterating that "more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use."
"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," she concluded.
At the same time, one ex-White House staffer told The Daily Beast that "nothing was ever explained" on the one-on-one calls. According to the former staffer, they were "asked to resign."
"The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained," the individual alleged.
Many social media users reacted negatively to the report, and Psaki's confirmation of the weeding out of staffers with past marijuana use.
I've smoked weed.— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 19, 2021
Almost everybody I know has tried marijuana.
Most of my successful, smart, talented, capable friends and colleagues have smoked marijuana.
And almost every young adult I've met has smoked marijuana.
It's 2021. Grow up, America.https://t.co/IVHvRmV4vd
Switching from marijuana to ketamine to make sure I can still serve the White House if called— Alex Yablon (@AlexYablon) March 19, 2021
you can’t work at the White House if you smoke weed, but if you’re ok with black people being 4 times more likely than white people to get arrested for marijuana possession, despite same usage rates, you get to live in the White House. make it make sense— Dilan Cook (@dilanpcook) March 19, 2021
Some netizens pointed out that it was odd how former US Presidents, like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, were able to admit to their marijuana use, but White House personnel are apparently being held to a different standard.
More recently, current Vice President Kamala Harris went on Power 105.1's "The Breakfast Club" and admitted that she smoked a joint "a long time ago," during her college days. She even quipped that she "did inhale," poking fun at Clinton's notorious claim that he "didn't inhale" when he tried marijuana.
Kamala Harris went on The Breakfast Club and joked about smoking weed in college. She then spent her career putting 1,560 people in jail for marijuana possession. pic.twitter.com/MaWIt2k79N— Tarek (@TarekCattan) August 11, 2020
.@BarackObama stated he smoked weed. When asked if he inhaled (based on a Bill Clinton reference), BO said “isn’t that the point?”— HRH Law-Raw (@__laura_mcqueen) March 19, 2021
So you’re telling me Obama would not be allowed to work in the @POTUS @JoeBiden admin?
This is a DUMBASS policy and a tremendous waste of time https://t.co/H6pdqSeI3V
They DID not violate the law. The admitted they had used weed in the past. So did Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton and Kamala Harris.— Christopher Moore (@TheAuthorGuy) March 19, 2021
Kamala Harris to the young staffers thrown out of the White House for marijuana use: pic.twitter.com/5HM9m6u5zv— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 19, 2021
While it's now known that five White House employees are "no longer employed as a result of this policy," it remains unknown how many personnel were suspended or ordered to work remotely.