Rep. Dave Joyce Objects To Marijuana-Related Firings at the White House

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair Dave Joyce responded to last week’s reports that President Joe Biden fired five White House staffers over past marijuana use with a letter that urges Biden to reconsider his stance on employing people who’ve used marijuana.

The Bainbridge Township Republican’s letter observes that numerous states and territories have enacted “sensible cannabis reforms and legalization measures which have overturned decades-long policies that are both arcane and discriminatory,” and that “when used correctly and responsibly, cannabis has many proven health benefits, including the treatment of PTSD and serving as an opioid alternative to pain management.

“As our nation continues to grapple with an increased rate of PTSD amongst our veteran communities and a growing opioid crisis that has caused thousands of fatal overdoses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be encouraging these therapies, not finding ways to further stigmatize and disenfranchise them,” Joyce’s letter continued.

Joyce’s letter said he’s also concerned about the message the federal government is sending by penalizing people who have been truthful about cannabis consumption, saying that “in a nation where the truth is considered malleable, we need to demonstrate to our young public servants that telling the truth is an honorable trait, not one to be punished.

“I respectfully request that your administration discontinue punishment of staff for being honest about their prior cannabis use and reinstate otherwise qualified individuals to their posts,” Joyce’s letter continued. “Moving forward, I encourage your administration to focus its efforts within cannabis on establishing an effective federal regulatory framework which recognizes that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate. I stand ready and willing to work with you in this regard.”

Joyce also joined a bipartisan group of more than 100 colleagues in reintroducing a bill that would let marijuana-related businesses in states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures to access the banking system. Legal marijuana businesses must currently operate on a cash basis because current laws keep them from accessing the banking system, increasing robbery risks. Republicans Bob Gibbs of Holmes County, Steve Stivers of Columbus and Warren Davidson of Miami County cosponsored the bill.

When questioned about the firings on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that marijuana remains federally illegal despite its legal status in some states. She said rules against marijuana use were “far more stringent” during the administration of former President Barack Obama. She said a number of the five individuals who are no longer employed at the White House had additional “security issues.”

“I think if marijuana was federally legal, that might be a different circumstance,” said Psaki.