Matt Smith Photographer
Former Vice President Joe Biden in 2016.
Former Vice President Joe Biden won't be able to sweep the marijuana leaves
under the table this campaign season.
Nearly the entire pack of Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed legalization. Polls show that two out of three Americans, a supermajority, supports legalization. Marijuana is legal in some form in the majority of states.
But Biden gave an interview to the New York Times
editorial board published Friday in which he said marijuana should not be legalized without more studies.
“Because I think science matters,” he told the paper. “I mean one of the reasons I’m running against the guy I’m running against is science matters, not fiction.”
It's a good campaign line, but the point underscores that Biden is a reluctant
entrant in the pro-marijuana crowd. A year ago, he called marijuana a gateway drug. He backed off that later and again in the Times
interview, saying, "What I’m arguing is there have been studies showing that it complicates other problems if you already have a problem with certain drugs. So we should just study it and decriminalize it, but study it and find out. Get the medical community to come up with a final definitive answer as to whether or not it does cause it. If it does cause other problems, then make it clear to people. So that’s a place you don’t not engage in the use of it.”
That's an incredibly muddled and unclear statement. He's for decriminalization, he used the word, but he just can't let it loose. (Regarding his call to the medical community, it may be worth noting that the American Medical Association was the only significant organization to oppose marijuana criminalization in 1937.)
Biden basically wants to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana, expunge the records of low-level pot convictions, and reschedule the drug so that it becomes easier to research.
We'll see if that's enough for the marijuana-loving public.
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