The only Democratic 2020 presidential candidate that does not support cannabis legalization is Joe Biden, and even he isn’t sure.
Legalizing marijuana has been a campaign promise touted by many leading 2020 presidential candidates, except for one.
Former Vice President Joe Biden stated back in 2010 that he believed marijuana was a “gateway drug” and legalizing it would be a mistake.
While at a Nov. 16 town hall at Las Vegas, Biden was asked if he had changed his stance to which he gave a skeptical response. He said there needed to be more investigation done to determine if the plant is a gateway drug or not.
“The truth of the matter is, there has not been nearly enough evidence acquired as to whether or not it’s a gateway drug,” Biden stated. “It’s a debate, I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally.”
Biden told the Las Vegas crowd he wanted to deschedule cannabis from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule III substance in order to do more scientific investigation.
“I don’t know enough to know whether it is [a gateway drug], although I have done a great deal of work on the drug side of this issue,” Biden said, citing his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The former VP did voice his support for state’s rights in determining their own marijuana policies. His stance on marijuana scheduling also differs from the majority of constituents in his political party.
Biden has made it clear that he is not ready to push for full recreational legalization.
“Nationally I’m not prepared to push for the legalization,” Biden stated. “Medical marijuana, yes, but the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in fact is one that I need more data to make that judgment.”
As for decriminalization of cannabis, Biden has made conflicting statements. However, in Las Vegas on Saturday he said that marijuana possession “should not be a crime.”
“It should be, to the extent that it exists, and anyone ever been convicted of the use of marijuana and put in jail, they should be immediately released, their record should immediately be expunged,” Biden stated. “It should not be a crime. It should be a civil penalty to the extent that it exists in states that don’t choose to legalize… But no one should go to jail for it, period.”
Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
While it may still be a “debate” for Biden, research suggests there is no connection between marijuana use and later use of more dangerous drugs and such a connection is widely recognized as a common cannabis myth.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.
“An alternative to the gateway-drug hypothesis is that people who are more vulnerable to drug-taking are simply more likely to start with readily available substances such as marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol, and their subsequent social interactions with others who use drugs increases their chances of trying other drugs.”
2020 Presidential Candidates on Cannabis
While Biden continues to question cannabis and its reform, other top presidential candidates have announced clear intentions on legalizing the plant. Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren released cannabis reform proposals in recent months.
Find out more about each candidate’s political history on marijuana by visiting our 2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana Guide.