In newly released audio, Joe Biden states that marijuana is not a “gateway” drug and it has to be “basically, legalized.”
Poor Joe Biden. The former Vice President, who was dragged into the 2020 election as the old-school Democratic party’s savior, can’t seem to stick to his script. Recent moves won’t allow Biden to gain any political momentum, and that now includes his back-and-forth recent statements on marijuana legalization.
Though the majority of Democratic candidates support marijuana legalization — Bernie Sanders say he’ll legalize cannabis his first day in office — Joe Biden believes cannabis should remain an “illegal misdemeanor” until more research is available. However, at a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden appeared to reverse his tune.
“I think It is at the point where it has to be, basically, legalized,” Biden states in an audio recording obtained by Politico.
The conversation started when Biden was approached by Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy. Murphy asked Biden about his “hawkish” cannabis policy, and the former Vice President restated his cannabis policy—that marijuana should be decriminalized and medical cannabis made available to patients, as well as plan to expand research into the plant.
He re-iterated twice, according to Politico, that marijuana is not a “gateway” drug.
“But I’m not prepared to do it as long as there [are] serious medical people saying we should determine what other side effects would occur,” Biden says.
He also added that he wants the Center for Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involved in the process. Biden’s campaign emphasized that he was merely re-stating his cannabis policy, although they did not respond to questions about what Biden meant when he suggested that marijuana “has to be, basically, legalized.”
It remains open to interpretation if this represents an evolution of Biden’s approach to marijuana. Following the less-than-desired results in the Iowa Caucus for Biden, it could represent a further shift to the left to appeal to the new realities of the Democratic Party. Or, as has happened in the past, it could just be another moment where Biden went off script and it causes him to lose possible momentum.
“Joe Biden has only recently evolved his position on marijuana policy,” Violet Cavendish, MPP’s communications manager, wrote in an email to Reason. “He may hold a more progressive view on marijuana reform now than he has in the past, but his position still remains far behind nearly all of the other presidential candidates and it comes with a caveat: He’s indicated that he won’t move forward with legalization without scientific research to back his case.”