Joe Biden Wants to Decriminalize Cannabis

The presumptive Democrat nominee for the Presidential elections in November has released his "Plan for Black America" which includes decriminalizing cannabis.

Joe Biden, the former Vice-President under Barack Obama, and the sole candidate to compete for the Presidency against Donald Trump in November has shared his "Plan for Black America" on Medium and his website.

The article states that should he be elected, Biden will seek to "Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gap."

In order to do so, the presidential nominee will "decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions, and end all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment."

The move represents a leftward shift for the former Vice President, who had previously stated that "there has not nearly been enough evidence…as to whether or not [cannabis] is a gateway drug."

At the time, Biden received a lot of flack for his comments, as they go against the thoughts of the U.S. general public, two-thirds of which support cannabis legalization.

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Though even Biden's newfound approach to cannabis which aims to decriminalize the plant on a federal basis remains a departure from his peers on the Democrat side of the aisle, as virtually all of them have said they would support all-out cannabis legalization.

Bernie Sanders, for example, was the final remaining Democratic candidate aside from Joe Biden, and Bernie vowed to federally legalize cannabis within his first 50 days of Presidency if he won the election. This is particularly important as Biden has been bringing in predominantly older voters while struggling to attract younger voters. Bernie, on the other hand, had the exact opposite problem; a large base of young voters, but not enough older voters.

For this reason, cannabis could be a pivotal issue for Biden if he's to secure more younger voters. Moreover, decriminalizing cannabis from the perspective of fixing the racially disproportionate effect of drug crimes could be the best way in which to do so, as previous efforts to loosen marijuana legislation have failed to attract sponsors due to their failure to mention minorities in the policy.

This is because according to the ACLU, "Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana."

Whether Biden's new cannabis policy will secure him the election is uncertain, though comparatively, President Donald Trump appears unfussed about cannabis legalization, having famously said that legalization should be "a state issue, state-by-state."

Much remains to be seen in the months leading up to the election, such as what occurs in the meantime with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how that will affect the election cycle.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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