Biden Won't Legalize Marijuana Because It May Be "A Gateway Drug"

By Desiree Bowie 11/18/19

The former VP is holding his ground on opposing marijuana legalization despite its overall acceptance amongst his presidential candidate peers.

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During a recent town hall in Las Vegas, former Vice President Joe Biden reinforced his anti-marijuana legalization stance, citing the lack of evidence of its effects as a major issue.

"The truth of the matter is, there's not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug," Biden said during the Vegas townhall, according to Business Insider. "It's a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it."

Back in March, Andrew Bates, a campaign spokesperson for Biden, solidified the former VP's stance on marijuana — Biden believed that the Schedule I drug should be decriminalized and that states should be able to make decisions about legalizing it. 

States Rights

"Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana. He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don't have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer," Bates said in a statement to CNN. "He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana's positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a Schedule II drug." 

Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule ! drug alongside heroin and LSD. This scheduling makes researching the drug and its possible short and long-term effects extremely difficult.

“Indeed, the moment that a drug gets a Schedule I, which is done in order to protect the public so that they don’t get exposed to it, it makes research much harder,” NIDA Director Nora Volkow said, according to Marijuana Moment. “This is because [researchers] actually have to through a registration process that is actually lengthy and cumbersome.”

Not Enough Evidence

The debate over whether marijuana is a gateway drug is ongoing. The CDC says more research is needed to make that determination while the National Institute on Drug Abuse also appears to suggest there is not enough evidence to declare marijuana a gateway drug. 

Studies have shown that while there is a correlation between marijuana use and the use of other drugs, the same can be said of alcohol and tobacco. But multiple studies say there is not enough evidence to prove that it specifically leads to the use of harder drugs.

Biden's stance on marijuana legalization goes against many of his fellow democratic candidates for president.

Where Other Presidential Candidates Stand

Kamala Harris took to Twitter on Monday, Nov 18, to laud her new bill and take a jab at Biden.

"Let's be clear: marijuana isn't a gateway drug and should be legalized. Glad to see my bill with Rep. Nadler take the next step in the House this week." Harris's new bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances list altogether, expunge marijuana-related crimes from records and protect people of color from being dicriminated against for marijuana use or possession.

Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro all support marijuana legalization. 

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie

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