I smoked weed… once. I realize this is no big deal for most people because they did this long before it became legal in this country.
But I bring it up now because of news out of the United States that five White House staffers have been fired as a result of prior marijuana use.
My one-time use apparently wouldn’t have precluded me, if I were an American, from serving in the White House.
Apparently there were additional security issues for some of the fired staffers, such as hard drug use.
“Of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Friday.
Normally, White House staffers must receive top secret security clearance, for which drug use can be disqualifying.
To get around this, an Associated Press story reveals staffers who have used marijuana only on a “limited” basis and whose jobs don’t require this security clearance would be given a waiver to work without the clearance.
The policy does not actually allow staffers to use marijuana or even to have previously used it more than once or twice a year. According to the AP story, “limited” use of marijuana means fewer than 15 times in the past year.
Though the Biden administration apparently has been more permissive than previous presidential administrations, the terminations have faced widespread criticism, particularly because marijuana has been legal in DC for over five years and in many states as well.
However, it remains illegal at the federal level.
On his Saturday morning show on CNN, Michael Smerconish posed the following question:
“Should past marijuana use disqualify you from government service?”
Of the respondents, 95.76 percent said no, only 4.24 percent said yes.
Although I would have voted no, I was surprised at the high percentage of no votes, considering how intolerant so many of the conservative persuasion in the US are.
I have a problem with those who would still treat marijuana as an offensive product in this day of growing legality. A person who drinks but not to excess can hold down a government job. Why should it be any different for those who use marijuana?
There is undoubtedly a lot less violence from marijuana use than booze.
When I tried marijuana, back in the mid-sixties when I was a reporter at The Edmonton Journal, it didn’t go that well for me because I didn’t smoke. The inhaling brought about a lot of hacking and coughing.
But it wasn’t the hacking and coughing that kept my use to that one time. It was the result. For about three hours just about anything would bring about a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
This was fine in the apartment of the friend who provided the marijuana, but it was embarrassing when walking down the street to the bar where we were to meet other friends, in the bar as well and then at the reception we were all to attend shortly.
When telling a story at the reception I came to a point where I broke into laughter so crazily that I had to retire to compose myself. When I returned I was asked to resume and when I came to that same point, I lost it again.
This time I simply went home.
I suppose I was driving high but out of the whole experience I don’t think I ever really knew what high was. Everything seemed normal except for the stupid laughter.
I learned later that marijuana can affect people in different ways. A colleague at the paper said he and his wife tried it together but where it made him feel happy, his wife descended into a severe bout of depression.
My only other involvement with an hallucinogenic drug was watching a friend try to light what he said was a hunk of hash. I had heard of hash oil but never a hunk of hash.
He said he had been told to push it into the end of a cigarette and then light it.
“But you don’t smoke,” I said.
He said the friend who had given him the hash had also given him a cigarette and some matches.
He pushed the hash into the end of the cigarette and lit it. Before the hash lit up it fell out of the cigarette and onto the floor. He picked it up and, after putting out and relighting the cigarette, tried it again. He did this several times, all with the same result.
The hunk of hash never lit up.
I asked to see it.
It didn’t take much of an examination to see that he had been trying to light a rock from the floor of my Volkswagen Beetle.
He spent some time looking through the stones on the floor of the passenger side of the vehicle in the hope of finding his hash but came up empty.
I think you can see I wasn’t going to have much success with drug use.
I’ll have to stick with booze.
ABC News reported that the broader federal government was somewhat more lenient than the White House in regard to marijuana use, with the Office of Personnel Management releasing a memo that said a person should not be deemed unfit merely because of past marijuana usage. The seriousness of the use and the nature of the position will also be factors in judging new hires.
This is as it should be.
And the US government should move to bring federal law regarding marijuana use to a point where it is in line with that in most of the states.