Vice President Kamala Harris has maintained a relatively low profile since taking office in January, but a new report suggests she is working aggressively to exert her influence behind the scenes.
According to the Daily Beast, dozens of young White House staffers have been punished for smoking pot at some point in their lives. Some have been suspended, while others have been asked to resign or forced to work remotely after they admitted to using marijuana during a background check.
The crackdown has frustrated the staffers, for obvious reasons. They claim it runs contrary to the Biden administration's initial assurances that prior use of marijuana, which is currently legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia, would have no impact on their employment situation.
Even individuals who acknowledged using marijuana exclusively in states where the drug has been legalized have faced consequences for being honest. "The threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained," a former White House staffer who was asked to resign told the Daily Beast, adding that the crackdown was "exclusively targeting younger staff and staff who came from states where it was legal."
Some might consider that unfair. Others, on the other hand, might recognize the bait-and-switch as a shrewd tactic deployed by a seasoned prosecutor. Perhaps the staffers should have known better, given Harris's history of using her authority to punish others for smoking pot. During her time as California attorney general, for example, Harris jailed nearly 2,000 people for marijuana-related offenses.
The Washington Free Beacon originally reported that Harris had jailed 1,560 individuals for weed crimes, a statistic that her campaign staffers denounced as a "lie" after Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) cited it during the Democratic primary. The California Department of Corrections ultimately weighed in, concluding that the Free Beacon had significantly undercounted the number of people jailed for weed crimes during Harris's tenure. In fact, Harris locked up a total 1,974 individuals for marijuana-related offenses.
The Free Beacon continues to regret the error.
Kamala Harris marching the young staffers who smoked weed out of the White House straight to Gitmo pic.twitter.com/H8lTQjPb3x
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 19, 2021