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Biden Sort of Decides On Marijuana Legalization: He Is Sort of Still Against It
The great thing about voting machines is that you can vote with one hand and hold your nose with the other one. Believe me, I have had a lot of practice with that, and I will do it again this year.
After Biden cinched the Democratic nomination, his campaign focused on getting the support for Bernie Sanders young supporters. Biden was greatly relieved that Sanders was willing to help, so they launched what they called a "Unity Task Force, and one of the major topics was Federal marijuana prohibition.
Politico reported the result as "The left gets rolled on legalizing pot."
Frankly, I absolutely reject that formulation. Marijuana legalization has been supported by the Libertarian right far longer than by the Left. The late Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley Jr. and many other conservatives have long opposed prohibition. Obama, Holder, Biden, Shalala, Clinton, Feinstein and Schumer all supported arresting millions of Americans. Until they opposed it…
However, in a meeting with Biden, Sanders is definitely on the Left. Given Biden's long support for the Drug War, even coining the term "Drug Czar", the real world results were not too terrible.
The key points:
- "Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level." That will automatically clear the way for banks to do business with cannabis companies. Now they are forced to do business with cash only.
- "We will support legalization of medical marijuana (federally), and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use." It should be noted that even if the Federal government legalized marijuana, state laws will still apply.
- "The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level." This provision is seen as a slap at Attorney General Barr, who has been accused of an abuse of his power by ordering an investigation of legal marijuana companies without probable cause.
- "Lift budget rider blocking DC from taxing and regulating legal marijuana." The Nation's capital is effectively controlled by the Congress. So the Feds would be legalizing marijuana in the Federal Capital, but not Federally.
- "Remove marijuana use from the list of deportable offenses." Appallingly, from 2003 to August 2018, more than 45,000 people were deported nationwide for possession of marijuana. Under federal law, any marijuana-related criminal conviction, except for a single conviction for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana, can make even a legal resident deportable. https://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/2019/08/12/marijuana-offenses-can-result-deportation-immigrants/1869065001/
- "All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged.
In short, as long as we don't call it "Legalization", Biden is in favor of it.
So, what is Trump's position? When he was running for President, he has said that he is in favor of medical marijuana, but since being elected he has allowed prohibitionists, notably his Attorneys Generals, (Sessions, and Barr) to attack state medical marijuana laws.
Mark Meadows, his fourth Chief of Staff, who represented North Carolina's 11th District until he resigned on March 30, to become President Trump's has consistently opposed any easing of Federal marijuana laws.
Meadows even voted against amendments to let military veterans get medical cannabis recommendations from their doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In other words, he puts the Drug Warriors ahead of the Americans who fought to keep Meadows free. Ironically, Meadows, who has not been in the military, was born in a US Army hospital in France.
Meadows even opposed a 2015 amendment to protect children and families relying on very limited CBD-only state laws from the DEA. He says he is protecting American children, but who is protecting the children from Meadows?
Over 90% of Americans support medical marijuana and roughly two thirds are in favor of legalization. Biden's position may allow him to have it both ways, but it is immeasurably better than Trump's,
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Marijuana Weekly News syndicated column.