Conservative media, as well as certain Republican lawmakers, have a new White House drug fixation after it was disclosed by the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) that agents discovered small amounts of marijuana in the West Wing twice last year, in addition to the cocaine that they more recently found.
Ever since cocaine was identified in the West Wing, which was disclosed to lawmakers during a closed briefing earlier this month, the news cycle has been filled with routine updates on the status of the Secret Service investigation—fueled by speculation around the unsubstantiated possibility that it belonged to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who has openly discussed his past addiction to crack cocaine.
While the Secret Service concluded its investigation without being able to track down the owner, it has revived the narrative by disclosing that cannabis was found in the White House twice in 2022.
But while the White House receives nearly 6,000 visitors from across the world every day—and about 16 percent of Americans say that they currently use marijuana, making it statistically unremarkable that a visitor or staffer brought cannabis to the most famous federal building—the story is being treated on the right as if it is a novel scandal.
Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), for example, told NewsMax that the discovery of cocaine and marijuana undermines public trust in “the system,” and he argued that “the fact they found marijuana, cocaine in the White House should worry all of us just from a standpoint—it’s a challenge to the president and his well-being.”
“Frankly, I would think the Secret Service would want to know because they’re there to protect the president, and having marijuana and cocaine in the White House does not bode well for that,” he said.
It’s unclear how the presence of the drugs would uniquely threaten the president, but Williams went on to say that the cocaine “probably” belonged to Hunter Biden, “but I guess we can’t prove it.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a noted drug warrior, also reacted to the latest development on Thursday.
“High schools can figure out when kids brings marijuana, but the White House can’t figure out who brought a bag of cocaine?” he said, making a far-fetched suggestion that schools are somehow able to identify each instance where a student possesses cannabis. “What a joke.”
High schools can figure out when kids brings marijuana, but the White House can't figure out who brought a bag of cocaine?
What a joke.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) July 13, 2023
For what it’s worth, Secret Service told Fox News that nobody was arrested over the cannabis that was discovered in July and September 2022 “because the weight of the marijuana confiscated did not meet the legal threshold for federal charges or D.C. misdemeanor criminal charges, as the District of Columbia had decriminalized possession.”
“The marijuana was collected by officers and destroyed,” a spokesperson said, adding that the cannabis weighed less than 0.2 ounces in both cases.
While law enforcement and prosecutors may have discretion, federal law considers possession of any amount of marijuana illegal, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison for a first offense. Biden has said, however, that nobody should be in jail over simple marijuana possession and issued a mass pardon for people who’ve committed the federal offense last year, while directing an administrative review into cannabis scheduling.
“The Secret Service discovered marijuana in the White House twice in 2022,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said. “Why is the public just hearing about this now?”
The Secret Service discovered marijuana in the White House twice in 2022.
Why is the public just hearing about this now?
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) July 13, 2023
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claimed that the country “did not have scandals when President Trump was in office to this degree,” adding that it raises the question, “What kind of people is Joe Biden bringing into the White House?”
She also said that White House staffers should be drug tested—a proposal that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) called unrealistic and represent “a massively disproportionate and overblown response that would violate people’s civil liberties.”
“I mean, if there were small amounts of marijuana or cocaine found somewhere in the Capitol Complex, we would not want to drug test everybody who works here,” Raskin, who has also previously sponsored legislation to prevent the denial of security clearances over cannabis, said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted earlier this week, prior to the marijuana revelation, that “the entire Biden family, especially Hunter and Joe, need to take a drug test, including all staff to screen for cocaine.”
In the real world, employees have to take drug tests.
And remember how you had to take a COVID test in order to do anything?
The entire Biden family, especially Hunter and Joe, need to take a drug test, including all staff to screen for cocaine.
Usually former or current drug… pic.twitter.com/kmiyL2ne4l
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) July 10, 2023
This is certainly not the first time that cannabis has been brought to the White House. Rapper and marijuana icon Snoop Dogg said in 2014 that he surreptitiously smoked a blunt inside a bathroom in the West Wing during the Obama administration.
And former President Jimmy Carter has talked about a time when his own son smoked marijuana at the White House with musician Willie Nelson during his administration.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.