WASHINGTON – White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that five staffers no longer work for the president because of past marijuana use despite updated guidelines that past use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House.
Psaki, in a series of tweets Friday, explained that a few weeks ago “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 said due to the updated guidelines, “more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use,” before confirming a handful of people are no longer employed at the White House because of the policy.
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“The bottom line is this: 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,” she wrote.
Psaki’s tweets followed a report from the Daily Beast that said dozens of White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign or placed in a remote work program due to their past marijuana use.
NBC News reported last month that the White House updated guidelines to waive the requirement on a case-by-case basis so potential appointees in the president’s office would be able to obtain a “top secret” clearance. Officials told NBC News that a waiver would only be granted to those who had “limited” use with marijuana in the past and are in positions that don’t ultimately require a security clearance.
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The Daily Beast said that sources familiar with the matter said young staffers were put on probation or fired because they revealed past marijuana use in an official document they filled out as part of the lengthy background check for a position in the Biden White House. Ahead of joining the administration, some staffers were informally told by transition officials that they would likely overlook some past marijuana use, but were later asked to resign, the Daily Beast reported.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_