The White House is beginning to look past recreational marijuana use to fill key Biden administration roles

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Yelena Dzhanova
·3 min read
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  • The Biden administration will overlook past recreational drug use to open up the pool of prospective applicants for key White House roles.

  • Biden officials recognized that potential applicants might have difficulty securing positions without a waiver dismissing pot consumption, NBC News reported.

  • Previous users must not use pot during their tenure in office and undergo random drug tests.

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The White House on Friday said it would begin to permit people who've used marijuana recreationally to apply for roles within the Biden administration.

The new policy means that some people who've used pot on a "limited" basis" will not be penalized by being denied the chance to work in the White House, NBC News reported.

A White House official told NBC News that the policy changed after "intensive consultation with security officials."

The change will be implemented on a "case-by-case basis," NBC News reported. Only individuals applying to positions that don't require a security clearance can receive a waiver overlooking past marijuana use.

Marijuana is not legal under federal law. But there's a growing movement to legalize pot, and multiple cities and states have been taking the lead on it. In the latest development, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York signaled in January that he intends to make marijuana legal in the state.

"I think this should've been passed years ago," Cuomo said during a January press briefing. "I think too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino, and poor. It's exaggerated the injustice of the justice system."

Biden officials recognized that potential applicants might have difficulty securing positions without a waiver overlooking recreational marijuana use, NBC News reported.

More than three dozen states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical consumption.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

But in a statement to NBC News, a White House official said that President Joe Biden "is committed to bringing the best people into government - especially the young people whose commitment to public service can deepen in these positions and who can play leadership roles in our country for decades to come."

"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 continued.

Individuals who are granted a waiver and secure a White House position must agree to not use pot during their tenure in office. They also must undergo drug testing at random intervals, according to NBC News.

These guidelines would "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," a White House official told NBC News.

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