Despite all of his “nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana” comments, Biden, too, has joined the club where the president avoids the cannabis issue at all costs.
Senate Democrats are expected to introduce legislation in the coming weeks designed to legalize marijuana at the federal level. This has been one of the party’s primary objectives since they won the majority in both chambers last November. However, Democratic President Joe Biden doesn’t appear to be as enthusiastic about making such bold leaps in the realm of pot reform.
Last week, Biden fired five staffers for pot-related discrepancies in drug disclosures, and now insiders say he didn’t want to use marijuana as part of his campaign platform because he thought it would cause him to lose to Trump. Buckle up, America, there’s about to be a fustercluck.
Stacey Walker, a Linn County, Iowa supervisor who was part of a task force to help carve out Biden’s criminal justice platform during his campaign, just published a video calling him out for his anti-pot views. He says that Biden was so worried that supporting marijuana legalization would cause him to lose the election that he just didn’t want to take the risk.
Although members of the task force showed him polling data and assured him that “Americans were in favor” of such a progressive move, Biden thought it was a bunch of malarkey and refused to get onboard. “President Biden wanted to commit more study to this before making a decision,” Walker asserts.
These types of political shenanigans are nothing new. Over the decades, we’ve grown accustomed to presidents disregarding the question of federal marijuana legalization. Obama did it. So did Trump. And now, despite all of his “nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana” comments, Biden, too, has joined the club where the president avoids the cannabis issue at all costs.
According to Walker, Biden’s position on cannabis hasn’t changed since winning the 2020 election. Sure, he still supports decriminalization, expunging past pot convictions, and continuing to allow states to legalize the leaf as they see fit. But he’s probably not going to get behind a push to legalize nationwide. Why? Presumably, so he doesn’t lose his bid for reelection.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are winding up to take a chance on legalizing weed this year. It is unclear whether they are going to simply ignore Biden’s apparent resistance and make the push to see how far they can take it, or if they have a plan to get the president to go along with their scheme. Perhaps they realize that, at this juncture, getting a cannabis bill to the president is the least of their worries.
Even though Democrats have majority rule in Congress, there are still so many roadblocks, including the controversial filibuster that could prevent a cannabis proposal from getting passed. Like it or not, they need some Republican support to get a marijuana bill through the Senate, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t going to let that happen. He’s prepared to disable the upper chamber if Democrats go rogue to further their agenda.
So, while it might be tricky getting Senate Democrats and President Biden on the same page with respect to cannabis reform, pushing a bill to the point where the president even gets to chime in is going to be the real challenge. Nevertheless, we’re still waiting for Biden to make good on his cannabis-related campaign promises. He indicated months ago that he would expand cannabis research opportunities and was all for downgrading marijuana to a less restrictive Schedule on the Controlled Substances Act.
While these moves might be considered modest reforms, seeing them through would show America that Biden, while continuing to spout outdated ideas, isn’t just a bold-faced liar and remains somewhat open to a shift in national pot policy. There’s no reason the new administration can’t make some kind of change this year.