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Lawmakers Urge President Biden to Rectify Alleged Cannabis Firings; Help End the Failed Policy of Cannabis Prohibition

Today, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) joined 30 Members of Congress, led by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Beyer (D-VA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), in urging President Joe Biden to rectify instances in which several White House staffers were reportedly suspended, put on probation, or asked to resign after honestly disclosing past cannabis use. In addressing these reports, the lawmakers asked the White House to clarify its employment suitability policies, remove past cannabis use as a potential disqualifier, and apply these policies with consistency and fairness.

“While we work to deschedule cannabis legislatively, your administration should act within its power to stop legitimizing unfair cannabis laws,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden. “You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgement that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment, and contributing to society. You can meet this moment and help end our failed punitive policy of cannabis prohibition.”

In their letter to President Biden on Thursday, the lawmakers noted that cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states, with more than 50% of the adult population having used cannabis in their lifetimes. That includes formers presidents and current senior officials. 

“The existing policies have been applied in inconsistent and unfair ways,” the lawmakers added. “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. Repercussions for cannabis use have always been unequal and those with the most power have always faced the fewest consequences. We ask that you don’t allow that pattern to continue within your administration.”

In addition to Connolly, Blumenauer, Beyer, Jones, Huffman, and Lee, the letter was signed by Reps. Joaquin Castro, Steve Cohen, Peter DeFazio, Theodore Deutch, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Jesús "Chuy" García, Alcee Hastings, Pramila Jayapal, Henry "Hank" Johnson, Jr., Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, James McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky, Eric Swalwell, Rashida Tlaib, Nydia Velázquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Peter Welch.

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