By Roland Sebestyén
Despite becoming a little bit more permissive over the years, as a senator, Joe Biden has a record of being tough on drug offenses. Even as Vice President, he was against cannabis legalisation. But what would really happen to cannabis should Biden elected as the president of the United States next week?
As The Atlantic reported, people had a few ideas why Joe Biden, the 77-year-old Democratic presidential candidate, wouldn’t legalise cannabis.
Some argue it is because he was part of the generation scarred by “Reefer Madness”, while others thought his personal and political past could prevent him from making the next step.
According to sources, the answer is simple: none of the above influences Mr. Biden; he is just worried about public health. He’d simply like to see more studies and research on the topic before making the decision.
In a town hall during the campaign, Mr. Biden said: “The truth is there’s not been nearly 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 legalise it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
However, Mr. Biden, as a Senator, introduced a number of bills that aimed to impose strict punishment on drug dealers in the 80s.
A decade later, he signed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which resulted in a massive incarceration of those committing drug offenses.
Generally, Democrats tend to be more liberal on cannabis policies then their Republican counterparts. As such, Mr. Biden was expected to take a far looser approach to the drug during the presidential campaign.
He (eventually) did. While he never went as far as guaranteeing changes in the federal cannabis policy, he said he didn’t think anyone should be in prison for smoking cannabis.
His VP candidate, Kamala Harris, made some headlines after talking about decriminalisation on live television.
Mr. Biden’s spokesperson, Andrew Bates, told CNN: “Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana.
“He supports decriminalising cannabis and automatically expunging prior criminal records for cannabis possession, so those affected don’t have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer.”
This might be the key here: Mr. Biden would also remove federal enforcement in states that have legalised the drug.
Although the presidential candidate might not be the biggest advocate for cannabis, this policy would go further than Barack Obama or Donald Trump went during their times in the Highest Office, especially if Mr. Biden were to reschedule cannabis and remove it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to a lower status.
It would mean that cannabis wouldn’t be treated as equivalent to heroin, which is also categorised as Schedule I.
Matt Carr, the chief trends strategist at the Oxford Club, told INN that while policy changes would almost certainly be implemented, the timeline is yet to be confirmed.
He said: “It will be somewhere in the mix, but that is not going to be a first 100 days sort of initiative.
“There’s going to be other things that they’re definitely going to have to tackle first in terms of just their own agenda and the economy.”
Others argued that a Democrat win would be a “huge boost” for the cannabis industry, but as it’s the case with Donald Trump, change is coming with or without Mr Biden.
Cover photo: Gage Skidmore