The former Vice President underscored the need for more cannabis research, as anecdotal evidence suggests how marijuana impacts the brain.
Joe Biden joined The Breakfast Club radio program Friday, where the former Vice President discussed his agenda for black Americans as well as his drug policy. In an attempt to explain why marijuana should be decriminalized instead of legalized at the federal level, Biden replied, “I know a lot of weed smokers.”
The conversation started with Biden reprising his drug policy platform’s aim to undo the damages caused by the war on drugs, particularly for communities of color. Biden emphasized the need to eliminate jail time for drug possession crimes and provide mandatory rehab as an alternative solution.
“No one should be going to jail for drug crime. Period. Nobody. Nobody,” Biden said. “No matter what the crime, particularly marijuana which makes no sense for people to go to jail.”
“It costs less to put people in a drug rehabilitation program than it does in jail,” he added. “And you have a chance. We’ve got to give people a chance.”
Breakfast Club host Charlamagne tha God asked Biden if he felt strongly about the issue, why did he differentiate between legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana? The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate replied it’s because marijuana research is lacking. Biden underlined that while cannabis is not a gateway drug—an opinion also stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—we need better understanding of marijuana’s impact on brain development.
“We should wait until the studies are done,” Biden said. “I think science matters.”
Charlamagne suggested America has “decades and decades of studies” from actual cannabis users, which should provide some indication of how marijuana impacts the brain. Biden adopted a joking manner in response.
“Yeah, we do,” Biden said. “I know a lot of weed smokers.”
Though Biden stressed the need for rigorous cannabis research, the offhand remark concerned cannabis advocates like the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). It appeared like Biden was going back on his word, using personal anecdotes about marijuana’s long-term neurocognitive impact to guide policy.
“It is irresponsible for any policymaker to make decisions on the basis of anecdotal evidence,” MPP Deputy Director Matthew Schweich told The Fresh Toast. “We call on both President Trump and Vice President Biden to listen to the American people and take firm positions in support of comprehensive federal marijuana reform.”