Investing in a cannabis company could jeopardize an individual’s application to work under President Joe Biden, according to a new report this week.
Politico obtained a document detailing the Biden administration’s new employee conduct guidelines, reporting on Wednesday that the rules could “potentially deny security clearance to individuals who have invested in companies that are involved in the marijuana business.”
“Eligibility may be negatively impacted if an individual knowingly and directly invests in stocks or business ventures that specifically pertain to marijuana growers and retailers,” the document said. “Decisions to willfully invest in such activity could reflect questionable judgment and an unwillingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations.”
The Biden administration has taken a relatively lax approach toward past cannabis use among employees; a White House official said last year that the “Biden White House has been more permissive than past administrations on past marijuana use.”
But there have also been reminders of the continued federal prohibition of cannabis. Last year, news broke that the White House fired dozens of staffers for previous use of cannabis.
The firings prompted a concerned letter to Biden from several Democrats in Congress, who said they were “dismayed to learn that several White House staffers were reportedly suspended, put on probation or asked to resign after honestly disclosing past cannabis use.”
“We ask that you clarify your employment suitability policies, remove past cannabis use as a potential disqualifier, and apply these policies with consistency and fairness,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states, with more than 50 percent of the adult population having used cannabis in their lifetimes.
This number is bound to rise as states across the country legalize through voter initiatives. Just last year, cannabis was legalized in five new states through ballot initiatives, and many more states are currently working on legislation to legalize cannabis. The American people are demanding a change to punitive and harsh cannabis laws that have always been unequally applied.”
The Biden administration pushed back on the reports, telling CNBC at the time that “no staffers have been fired due to pot use from ‘years ago’ or from ‘casual or infrequent use’ in the past 12 months.”
According to CNBC, “President Donald Trump’s White House, for instance, did not allow any past marijuana use over the prior year, and Obama’s required no pot use for the previous six months, according to the official,” while the Biden administration claims that its new policy “has allowed around a dozen White House staff to continue serving in the administration who would not have been permitted under prior administrations’ policies.”
Polls show that a majority of the public––including an overwhelming majority of Democrats––supports an end to pot prohibition.
Biden, however, has long resisted the idea of outright legalization. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said that he backed the decriminalization of weed, but not an end to prohibition.
The position has put Biden at odds with his party, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who has admitted to smoking marijuana in the past and has said that she is in favor of legalization.
In their letter to Biden last year, the Democratic lawmakers alluded to both Harris’ and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s admitted past use.
“Those in the upper ranks of your administration won’t face consequences for their cannabis use, and nor should they, but the same standard should be applied across the administration,” the letter said.
A poll last year among cannabis industry executives found a relatively bearish outlook toward legalization under Biden. Sixty-two percent said they don’t believe the current administration supports cannabis, while 41 percent said that federal legalization is still at least five years away.