Joe Biden’s New Cannabis Policy Proposals Met With Criticism, Disappointment

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is still not on board with federal legalization.
Joe Biden's New Cannabis Policy Proposals Met With Criticism, Disappointment

In a bid to win over still-skeptical progressives, Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a set of policy proposals that moved him more closely aligned with his one-time rival, Bernie Sanders. But on the matter of marijuana, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee remains miles away from legalization.

The proposals were detailed in a lengthy document born out of a Biden-Sanders task force that tackled a number of policy issues—from criminal justice to climate change. According to the New York Times, Biden is “expected to adopt many of the recommendations.” The Times noted that some of the recommendations, such as economics and the environment, “include broader and costlier plans than [Biden] has championed so far in his campaign.” 

But the Biden and Sanders camps remain at loggerheads over a number of areas, including cannabis policy. Sanders has long championed legalizing marijuana on the federal level, where it remains on the list of banned substances. In unveiling his own comprehensive plan on drug policy last fall, Sanders vowed to “legalize marijuana and end the horrifically destructive war on drugs,” which he said “has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.” Biden has steadfastly resisted legalization, a position he reiterated in a clumsy interview last month on “The Breakfast Club.” 

Decriminalization Over Legalization

The policy paper released Wednesday by the Biden campaign falls well short of legalization, too, asserting instead that “Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level,” while also saying they support the “legalization of medical marijuana.” On the matter of recreational legalization, however, the paper says only that “states should be able to make their own decisions,” which is more or less how marijuana policy has operated in the U.S. since 2012, when Colorado and Washington voters passed measures ending the prohibition in their states.

Marijuana is listed as a schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, a category that also includes heroin. As defined by the law, schedule I drugs have “ a high potential for abuse,” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.” 

The task force reportedly clashed heavily over marijuana. Politico reported that “Sanders’ team argued in private meetings that they should legalize cannabis, but that idea was rejected,” with one member of the task force telling the website that the disagreements over cannabis policy were “huge battles.” As Politico put it: the left “got rolled” on marijuana. 

Briahna Joy Gray, who served as Sanders’ press secretary during the 2020 campaign, responded to that report on Wednesday with dismay. “Team Biden is demonstrating a mocking disrespect for voters— denying is even the bare minimum, even when it would help him win,” Gray said on Twitter. “There’s honestly no excuse for it.” 

Marijuana advocates were also disappointed. NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said that the measures outlined by the task force, including the rescheduling of marijuana on the federal level, fell well short.

“It is impractical at best and disingenuous at worst for the Biden campaign to move ahead with these policy proposals,” said Altieri. “Rescheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act would continue to make the federal government the primary dictators of cannabis policy, and would do little if anything to address its criminal status under federal law.”

Altieri continued: ““Rescheduling marijuana is intellectually dishonest. Just as cannabis does not meet the strict criteria of a Schedule I controlled substance, it similarly does not meet the specific criteria that define substances categorized in schedules II through V.”

  1. Please post &/or put together a way that readers like myself can get involved to hopefully change his mind.

  2. Mr. Biden Trump has already said he would decriminalize,if you don’t all the young folks will vote GOP AGAIN putting our democracy at serious risk.It’s such a small thing but the best thing is if you legalize it takes all the power away from both the lying GOP but also the black market and makes you a favorite among all Americans over 65′.As a by product it will create a 200 billion dollar New business that everyone can benefit from.It will also help save the planet because their are so many things made by chemical company’s that can be made from canabis,open your mind to the possibilities.thank you Roger Isbell 6362255767 phone

    1. Hi! I noticed you included your phone number in your submission. If you would like to be reached, setting up a new, anonymous email is easy and quick with any major email provider, such as Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft. Your phone number, especially if it is a personal phone, can be used not only in bad faith but also to find your home address. Stay safe!

  3. This story seems incomplete. From the article:

    >>>”The task force reportedly clashed heavily over marijuana.”

    What’s lacking is WHO were the people opposed to legalization? And WHAT were their arguments? — There are no legitimate arguments against legalizing marijuana because the prohibition was FRAUDULENTLY ENACTED in the first place. So how were illegitimate arguments able to prevail over legitimate ones?

  4. An old dog that knows no new tricks. Once a drug warrior always a drug warrior. Kind of reminds me of the pentagon papers, explained why McNamara never admitted he was wrong about Vietnam.

  5. Federal decriminalization appears to be a political strategy to get Biden elected. Once Biden’s in office and the banking laws allow cannabis businesses to operate like any other business, then the incoming tide of additional states legalizing recreational use will enable true Federal legalization without costing Biden any votes. His underlying strategy of build back better, his commitment to justice reform and the black community, and the potential tax revenue make legalization an inevitability.

  6. It is infuriating the this crusty codger is going to try to skate on this status quo pose. Having lost his son, and two of his best friends to a form of brain cancer which may well prove susceptible to cannabis therapies of the future, you’d think he’d be storming the barricades to bring this research home. This dunderhead move won’t cost him my vote, but it does make me want to slap him into the 21st century.

  7. I’m sorry but this octogenarian windbag belongs in the retirement home jabbering nonsense along with Abe Simpson.

  8. I thought that Democrats were supposed to be progressive and for alternative, new medicines, as well as for personal freedoms?
    Biden is a politician, same as the rest of them. Wouldn’t be surprised if he got lobby money from big pharma with everything he says right now.

  9. Please don’t vote for this dinosaur. He is going to set us back in our fight for federal legalization. He said he is going to ramp up immigration by 700%. That is crazy we have people already here we need to worry about. He is defunding charter schools. He is not only going to ramp up immigration by 700% he is going to immediately give them welfare and Medicaid. Last voting season we voted to keep Hillary out. This time we need to vote to keep Biden out. He is incompetent and seems to have the same brain damage as his friends. Trump is doing a lot better job than I thought. Give Biden back to the Democrats and ask them to find a decent candidate for the next election.

  10. “Rescheduling marijuana is intellectually dishonest.”
    I agree, this is ridiculous. There is real tax dollars on the line and people don’t need to go to jail for possession. People seem to forget that Canada exist.
    Current stances are disappointing to say the least.

  11. While Im not a Trump supporter but I have little to get excited over. Biden seems like the democratic candidate from the 80’s. His mindset seems outdated. If he dosen’t see the folly of US cannabis laws he’s not my candidate.

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