In an effort to unite the Democratic Party and bring the progressive wing into the tent, presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden met with former candidate Senator Bernie Sanders to hash out several major proposals.
In the July 8 Unity Task Forces meeting, the two men continued their negotiations around six major issues including health care, criminal justice and climate policy. Legalizing and rescheduling cannabis, yet again, played a minor role, though Biden’s campaign released a vague document calling for decriminalization on a federal level.
Democrats and Cannabis Legalization
Decriminalization is a far cry from Bernie Sanders’ position, in fact, most of the Democratic Party, independents and now a majority of Republicans all overwhelmingly support legalization, according to a recent poll.
Cannabis legalization is not only the right thing to do, but it could hand Biden a win-win situation, starting with getting out the vote.
Young people, progressives, people of color and a whole lot of single issue voters would likely be delighted to cast their ballot for a pro-legalization candidate.
The promise of legalization as part of Biden’s policy would surely boost voting in key presidential-election states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Virginia.
The downside? None. While legalization motivates its supporters, it seemingly does not ruffle the feathers of its opponents, like other hot potato issues might.
The upside of legalization would move the Biden campaign closer to adopting criminal justice reform, which has been a part of Senator Sanders’ agenda throughout his 16 years in the House of Representatives and his third terms in the U.S. Senate.
Does Joe Biden Support Cannabis Legalization?
Theories abound. Biden did, after all, spend many years in the halls of Congress pushing for mandatory minimum sentencing and other changes to drug laws, which ultimately resulted in putting hundreds of thousands of Americans, disproportionately Blacks, behind bars, thereby ruining hundreds of thousands of lives, families, communities and futures.
Some of Biden’s advisors have said that he’s hung up on the public health aspects of cannabis and needs assurances that it will not lead to serious mental or physical problems, which indicates that he is obviously reading the wrong literature on the matter.
If Biden was concerned about public health, he’d be wise to look at how the illicit, unregulated market is leading to weed being laced with other chemicals, Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba told The Atlantic, adding that if Biden thinks marijuana is addictive, he should explain what makes it worse than alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
“I would encourage him and his campaign more broadly to do more research on some of the finer points,” Lumumba said, adding that legalization is a necessary part of criminal-justice reform.
More on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force meeting here.
NORML’s response to Biden’s marijuana decriminalization plan.