Joe Biden Does an About-Face on Marijuana

Joe Biden Does an About-Face on Marijuana

In case you haven’t noticed, marijuana has become a mainstream issue. Long considered a topic that politicians would sweep under the rug due to its taboo nature, cannabis has stepped into the spotlight following Canada’s legalization of recreational pot and the fact that 33 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana (10 of which also allow adult-use consumption).

This push into the mainstream has also been fueled by the American public’s budding support for weed. In October, national pollster Gallup found that an all-time record 66% of respondentsfavored the idea of broad-based legalization. Needless to say, cannabis is expected to be one of a handful of hot-button topics in the 2020 elections.
Joe Biden’s past fuels a media-based cannabis scare.

A good number of Democrats who’ve announced their candidacy for the presidency have seized this opportunity by proclaiming their support for federal change. As a reminder, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, meaning it’s entirely illegal, highly prone to abuse, and has no recognized medical benefits. At least six prominent Democrats — Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. — have voiced support for legalization at the federal level.

But not every Democrat has been on board with the legalization movement, at least according to various media outlets. Democratic front-runner Joe Biden was roasted by the media after announcing his candidacy for the presidency given his harsh stance on illicit substances in the past.

Between 1986 and 1990, Biden introduced a number of policy proposals designed to crack down on criminals involved in illicit drugs. Many of these bills called for considerably harsher sentences for drug dealers, including those that were involved in growing and distributing marijuana in the United States. Even as recently as 2010, the former vice president was quoted as saying:

I still believe it’s a gateway drug. I’ve spent a lot of my life as chairman of the Judiciary Committee dealing with this. I think it would be a mistake to legalize.

To say that Biden’s multidecade War on Drugs and his immediate leap to the head of the Democratic field (although it’s still very early in the election season) had pot stocks and cannabis enthusiasts on edge would be an understatement.[A black silhouette of the United States, partially filled in with cannabis baggies, rolled joints, and a scale.

But three weeks ago, Yours Truly cautioned that brandishing Biden as anticannabis without hearing from the man himself may not be accurately representing his current position. In recent years, Biden’s stance on criminal punishments for marijuana offenses has softened, and in January 2019, the former vice president said, “I haven’t always been right. I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried.”

The fact is that people and views can change, and we’ve seen it happen in Washington before. Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner once described himself as “unalterably opposed” to decriminalizing marijuana in the late 2000s. But in a tweet in April 2018, Boehner proclaimed that his views on cannabis had “evolved” and that it was time for the federal government to change its stance on marijuana. Boehner has even gone on to join Acreage Holdings’ (NASDAQOTH:ACRGF) board as an advisor. Acreage is one of the largest multistate cannabis businesses in the United States, with its vertically integrated business model spanning 20 states, inclusive of pending acquisitions. Recently, Acreage Holdings agreed to be acquired by Canopy Growth for $3.4 billion under the condition that the federal government legalizes marijuana.

Perhaps it’s not such a surprise, then, that Biden announced an about-face on cannabis after decades of stringent proposals. While speaking to voters in New Hampshire on May 14, Biden said, “Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.”

Published at Fri, 31 May 2019 15:25:53 +0000