Joe Biden’s Stance on Cannabis Waivers With “New Plan for Black America”

Written by Rita Thompson

 

For those who haven’t paid much mind to the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee’s stance on weed, it’s changed quite a bit over the years. 

Looking Back at Biden’s Vice Presidency

While serving as Vice President in 2010 back, Joe Biden held strong in his position as a cannabis-critic. In a December 2010 interview with ABC News, Biden expressed a strong belief that cannabis is a gateway drug.

“I’ve spent a lot of my life as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee dealing with this,” he said. “I think it would be a mistake to legalize.” 

In the same interview, he went on to explain that, “we’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s [smoking cannabis] is one of them.” 

Times are a-Changin’

Today, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee is taking a different stance. 

While he still opposes legalization, Biden now supports reform such as decriminalization and record expungement. As a part of a “Plan for Black America,” Biden’s campaign website details programs to, “decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions.” 

“When you talk about marijuana, everybody says, ‘Biden says it’s a gateway drug,” Biden explained in an interview with The Shade Room. “I don’t think it’s a gateway drug.” 

Further, his website also lays out goals for changing additional criminal justice policies ranging from the death penalty, to crack-versus cocaine sentencing disparities. 

Who’s Side are you on?

Cannabis in the U.S. is already legal for privileged people, a point Sen. Cory Booker, D-NY, explained to Biden in a Democratic primary debate in November 2019. 

“Let me just say this: with more African Americans under criminal supervision in American than all the slaves since 1850, do not roll up into communities and not talk directly to issues that are going to relate to the liberation of children,” Booker added. “Because there are people in Congress right now that admit to smoking marijuana, while… our kids are in jail right now for those drug crimes.” 

All-in-all, it makes you wonder. Why has Biden’s stance on criminal justice changed so drastically over the last decade? Is it a matter of support for the continuously disproportionately affected communities? Or is it a matter of false-chivalry?  

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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