Former vice president Joe Biden has made clear in myriad ways that in the Democratic presidential nomination race for 2020, he plans to proudly fly the banner of an old-school dead-center candidate—not too far to the progressive left and not too far toward the conservative right.
However, on the question of cannabis it appears that the presidential hopeful is sharply out of step with the U.S. mainstream. Such was glaringly clear on Saturday when Biden stated that he would not be in favor of legalizing cannabis out of a fear that it could be a “gateway drug” leading users of the plant to harder drugs.
During a town hall in Las Vegas, Biden came out strongly against the federal legalization of cannabis, stating:
“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug.
It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
The statement prompted groans and audible reactions of exasperation from the crowd as if the assembled participants in the town hall were collectively telling the 76-year-old politician: “OK, grandpa.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a community event at Matt Kelly Elementary School in Las Vegas.
Posted by Fox News on Saturday, November 16, 2019
On the face of it, the assertion sounds more like something one would hear from 1980s “War on Drugs” propaganda like McGruff the Crime Dog than a well thought-out statement from a serious contender for the 2020 race.
Even Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the former top cop in California, has come out in favor of legalization while claiming to have smoked it during her college years, and most Democratic competitors likewise support an end to prohibition. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has said that the “disastrous policies that make up the War on Drugs have not reduced drug use and violent crime.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed Sanders’ run, immediately tweeted:
“Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized.
These are matters of public health.”
Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized.
These are matters of public health.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2019
Federal law has classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with