President Biden’s political career has not exactly made him the poster child for marijuana legalization. Earlier in this career, he was among the many who supported the War on Drugs and anti-marijuana legislation. With time, the President has changed and liberalized his views significantly. But has he changed them enough to keep Democrats in power?
Legalization bills are popping up on both sides of the political aisle, and the public support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high.Two-thirds of this nation’s citizens believe marijuana should be legal, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
Meanwhile, some Republicans are going so far as to call out the President for his dated and conservative views on marijuana. This leaves many wondering exactly when and how the White House will take a stance on weed as the concept itself continues to grow in popularity among voters.
With all this forward momentum, and so close to a very important midterm election, it is puzzling to some as to why the President has not taken a stronger stance on marijuana legalization. “It’s almost as if the President doesn’t recognize the astounding increase in support for marijuana legalization over the last two decades,” wrote Harry Enten For CNN.
But before judging where Biden stands today, it might be wise to look back on where his views were just a few years ago on the campaign trail, when he repeatedly referred to marijuana as a gateway drug. Additionally, as we have reported before, he supported federal policies that made it easier for law enforcement to crack down on marijuana offenders, most notably his authorship of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
WATCH: @JoeBiden on marijuana legalization – “There is not nearly been enough evidence…as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” he said last night, “It’s a debate.” Biden said states should decide on legalization & that he supports medical marijuana. @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/s4CE32phLS
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) November 17, 2019
He softened his stance a bit later on the campaign trail to say marijuana should be decriminalized, but the legalization should be left to individual states, saying that “states should be able to make a judgement to legalize marijuana. I think that’s okay.”
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Strong proponents of marijuana legalization may have been concerned when the Biden administration fired five White House staffers who admitted to past marijuana use. “Many of these staffers lived in states where cannabis use and sale is perfectly legal, casting doubt on Biden’s campaign pledge that states should be free to implement their own cannabis laws without federal intervention,” according to Forbes. This action can look hypocritical, and suggests that maybe the idea of “decriminalizing” was more of a figurative concept than an actual game plan.
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With marijuana being less a partisan issue than other issues, and the public noticeably supporting it, one has to wonder exactly what the holdup is. “With legalization seeming such an obvious political win, all that’s stopping Biden, current and former aides say, is public health,” according to The Atlantic. In other words, the President wants even more evidence to prove marijuana is safe for public consumption.
While public health is certainly a reason to consider one’s stance on a myriad of issues, other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are progressing beyond Biden’s stance on marijuana while he waits for this alleged definitive public health data.
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As we previously reported, Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (who called him a “recalcitrant boomer”) have taken Biden’s inaction on marijuana legalization as an opportunity to undermine his understanding of the desire of American people.
While these opinions may be inaccurate, it does seem that now might be the time for the Biden administration to take some concrete action on marijuana policy. With leaders in both parties eager to move marijuana legalization forward, it seems like legalizing marijuana in some form is a low hanging fruit. The president just has to pick it off the tree.