Joe Biden Favors Decriminalizing Marijuana. That’s Not Good Enough.
Asked at a house party in New Hampshire on May 14 where Joe Biden stands on marijuana, one of his spokespeople, Andrew Bates, stated:
“He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don’t have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer.
“Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana.
“He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana’s positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a Schedule 2 drug,”
This is the same position Hillary Clinton took during the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s not an acceptable stance.
By calling for federal decriminalization and states’ rights, Biden is ceding the marijuana issue to his competition.
Where some states have been able to legalize marijuana – 10 so far and nine via ballot initiatives – others are struggling to accomplish that goal. The only solution is to end federal prohibition by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, not changing its schedule. That would even the playing field. The former Vice President obviously doesn’t get it.
In the ’70s, decriminalization was the buzz word. Today, it’s a moderate, safe answer to the cannabis question. This will not endear him to the marijuana masses.
Barack Obama also erred on the side of caution, at least in his first term, by opposing legalization. But by his second term, states began to take matters into their own hands, starting with Colorado and Washington voting to legalize in 2012. Rather than oppose the will of the states, the Justice Department issued rules the states had to follow, called the Cole Memo.
The middle-of-the-road candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden is taking his clues from Obama and Clinton. But much has changed since then. The biggest state in the country, California, joined the legalization movement in 2016, the same year Donald Trump was elected.
The only solution is to end federal prohibition by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, not changing its schedule. That would even the playing field.
By calling for federal decriminalization and states’ rights, Biden is ceding the marijuana issue to his competition. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker all favor legalization. Older voters may agree with Biden, but younger voters and progressives will seize on this issue and use it it convey that he’s out of touch.
This week, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announced that they would be introducing the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act. It calls for descheduling marijuana. That’s the code for legalization.
Biden’s support of the Anti-Drug Abuse Abuse Act of 1988 is notorious. It filled jails with Black and Hispanic men as the country’s incarceration numbers exceeded two million people, many on drug offenses. Biden helped create the Drug Czar’s. He’s still living this down.
He now admits his support for harsh drug and crime policies was a “big mistake” and that he “may not have always gotten things right” when it came to criminal justice policy.
He’s getting it wrong again.
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