(CNN) — The White House asked several employees to resign, suspended them or required them to work remotely after they revealed they had used marijuana in the past during a background check, sources familiar with the situation told CNN.
Five people are no longer working in the White House, while others are working remotely. In many of the cases of employees who are no longer there were additional factors at play, including in some cases the use of hard drugs, the official said.
Although marijuana use is legal in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level. This can get in the way of the federal security clearance process.
The White House stressed on Friday that it relaxed some of the restrictions in its security clearance policy. Their goal is to be more lenient when it comes to employing people with a history of drug use.
Marijuana Use Policy Update
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Friday that the White House “worked with the security service to update policies to ensure that past marijuana use did not automatically disqualify staff from serving. in the White House.
“As a result, more people who would not have worked in the past with the same level of recent drug use will work,” he added. “The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working in the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”
In a statement to CNN, Psaki said: “While we will not go into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many cases from the small number of individuals who were fired.”
The White House is granting limited waivers to the requirement that employees of the President’s Executive Office qualify for Top Secret clearance to be employed in the White House, an official said.
Who can benefit?
To be granted an exception, employees must agree to stop using marijuana. They also have to agree not to use it during government service and submit to random drug tests. These employees will work remotely until their previous consumption meets the standards established by the Division of Personal Safety.
The official said this was done after a detailed review and consultation with the Division of Personal Security. The official said the administration has worked since the transition to address issues regarding occasional marijuana use in the security clearance process. These have disproportionately affected younger employees.
The exemption will be available to those who have used marijuana on a limited basis in the past year. Also for those in positions that do not require security clearances, the official said. In addition, other factors will be taken into account when granting the exemption.
The process for obtaining a security clearance
The Daily Beast was the first to report on the White House decision to fire or marginalize employees who admitted they had used marijuana.
Employees were informed of the decision within the past month, two sources familiar with the situation said.
Employees who need a security clearance at the White House are required to fill out a detailed background check questionnaire. Applicants are asked to detail the type of drugs or controlled substances they have used. Also that they declare how frequent and recent this consumption has been.
Two sources said that during the presidential transition period it was suggested to some that prior marijuana use might not disqualify people from serving in the White House. One of the sources said the marijuana policy was not explained to the employees before they completed the questionnaires.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism