White House press secretary Jen Psaki has defended the dismissal of at least five of its staffers for past marijuana use. This came after The Daily Beast reported late last week that dozens of young staffers of the Executive Mansion had been either suspended, asked to resign, or moved to other posts because they had used the drug at some time. This news frustrated employees who were comforted by early indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of the federally prohibited substance would not necessarily disqualify applicants for staff positions. Obviously, use of the drug is an issue for Biden staffers.

But yesterday, Psaki explained during a press conference that five White House staffers had been dismissed from their jobs because even though “marijuana is legal in a number of states across the country … it is still illegal federally.” When asked if President Biden could “unilaterally say these people could come to work for him” Psaki responded pointedly, “If marijuana were federally legal, that might be a different circumstance.” Psaki seemed to defend the progressiveness of the Biden administration by explaining that “the rules were actually far more stringent” on past pot use when she worked in the Obama administration. 

The reporter asked Psaki about comments Vice President Kamala Harris made in 2019 admitting that smoking weed “gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy in this world.” In fact, when asked as a presidential candidate if she ever smoked marijuana, Harris responded with a laugh, “Half my family is from Jamaica; are you kidding me?” and confessed, contrary to President Bill Clinton, “And I did inhale.” Psaki did not address the reporter’s question yesterday as to why some past marijuana users were dismissed from the administration, but not all.

It is worth remembering and reminding our children that our actions and choices today can have extremely consequential ramifications tomorrow for our most prized employment and life dreams. At least five ex-White House staffers never would have imagined their dream job working for the President of the United States would be cut short solely because of a seemingly “harmless” choice they made in prior years. It is the rare and undesirable job choice where any form of drug use is a career accelerator. Avoiding it altogether is extremely wise.

What happens in the past does not always stay in the past.

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