The current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination can’t keep his story straight about cannabis reform.
Joe Biden wishes you would stop reminding him he once qualified cannabis as a “gateway drug.” At a Las Vegas town hall last November, Biden stated he couldn’t support federal marijuana legalization because he wasn’t sure if weed was a gateway drug.
“There’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” he said at the time.
The comment opened up Biden to attacks from more left-leaning opponents, and he’s been trying to walk it back ever since. “I don’t think it is a gateway drug,” he told reporters a week later. “I said some say it’s a gateway drug.”
Ever since then, Biden has walked a fine line between supporting marijuana reform, but not full-blown legalization. In a recent interview with The Shade Room, Biden once again felt the need to defend himself about marijuana.
“When you talk about marijuana, everybody says, ‘Biden says it’s a gateway drug’. I don’t think it’s a gateway drug.”
Biden went on to repeat his official platform position, which is to decriminalize cannabis nationwide and expunge prior marijuana convictions. States can decide to legalize adult-use cannabis under Biden’s plan, and he would move cannabis to a Schedule II drug, which would lift many restrictions currently in place around marijuana research.
However, Biden can hardly blame reporters and voters for misunderstanding this position. Just last weekend, he mistakenly said he would legalize marijuana before correcting himself.
“There is evidence that we have to do some more study on the impact on mental acuity,” he told KMOV-TV in St. Louis Saturday. “And so I would legalize — I would decriminalize and I would provide for the ability of the researchers to get in and make sure we got it right this time.”
This isn’t the first time Biden’s made this mistake either. Last month, Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy asked the candidate about his “hawkish” cannabis policy. He repeated it his policy platform, before stating twice he doesn’t believe marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Then he added this interesting nugget.
“I think it is at the point where it has to be, basically, legalized,” Biden said in a recording obtained by Politico.
Following the results of Super Tuesday last week, advocates across the country have become dismayed about substantial federal marijuana reform occurring this year. Thanks to a sweeping comeback by Joe Biden, Democratic candidates that supported major reform, like Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, have dropped out of the race. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has aligned himself as anti-marijuana in recent months, reversing previous promises to let states decide legalization.
The only major candidate left in the race that supports full marijuana legalization is Bernie Sanders, who says he would remove cannabis as a Schedule I drug through executive order his first day in office. Whether Biden would legalize or decriminalize marijuana as President remains open to interpretation of his above statements.