Stance of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Marijuana
The political world is in a frenzy since Biden, after teasing the American people and media for far too long, has finally chosen Kamala Harris as his Vice President. Although there’s a lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate (a recent pew poll showing many voters are voting for Biden simply because “he is not Trump”), many people are excited at witnessing the first female of color on a major party ticket and possibly Vice President within our lifetimes, and that is truly amazing. But this all begs the question that we here at Loud News Net want to know from politicians – where do Biden and Harris stand on Marijuana?
Brief History of U.S. Presidents and Cannabis
If you are anything like me, then marijuana prohibition, and possibly overall drug reform, is an important issue when choosing who to support in the voting booth. Despite that year of studies conducted on marijuana use, both medicinal and recreational, and with enough stats and figures about the racial disparity among marijuana arrests and criminal sentencing to make your skin crawl, you’re hard-pressed to find a popular presidential candidate that is willing to take the issue head-on. Former President Obama has been known to drop corny jokes when asked about legalizing it. And lest we forget that classic moment from Bill Clinton when he claimed he “I did not inhale”.
Joe Biden on Marijuana
So far, Joe Biden has chosen to tout the same bullshit we have been hearing from elected officials for years – that there’s just not enough information and research on marijuana use for him to consider fully legalizing it, even positing the ancient ‘gateway drug’ theory that has been thoroughly refuted. While this may seem stale at first, it must be said that Biden has had a VERY LONG history fighting on the front lines of the American drug war. Although it seems like the typical shape-shifting of a career politician who clearly recognizes that the ideals and positions of democratic party voters view as important has shifted further left than he’d feel comfortable with, he has shown the ability to evolve on certain issues. And yes, I know this isn’t saying much but…. it’s something.
Biden spent a lot of his time and manpower as a congressman between 1986 and 1990 proposing and sponsoring policies to enforce strong drug laws and sentencing. These policies are still scrutinized today as many of his policies are considered ‘gateways’ into allowing arrest and criminalizing of minorities at alarming rates in comparison to white people. And although he and his campaign are now claiming to be a bit more open-minded, positing that decriminalization is an important matter that he may address as president and even working with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders on marijuana policy proposals, his views on the issue still seem short-sighted.
Kamala Harris on Legalization of Marijuana
Kamala Harris, on the other hand, has a questionable history of prosecuting marijuana arrests during her time as district attorney of San Francisco, reportedly prosecuting stoners at a much higher rate than her predecessor. In 2010 she was elected as California’s attorney general, and while in this position she opposed ballot initiatives that were created to legalize recreational use in the state.
In 2018 Harris began to take on the legalization issue in a different way. She begin signing her name and cosponsoring a few bills such as New Jersey senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act and publicly declaring that she supports legalization on the federal level. It became a major part of her criminal justice reform platform while running for president in 2019, and she went on to be the architect behind the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act).
Although her timing and true dedication to the cause is a bit questionable, she’s already been targeted by Trump for her association with reefer – in an interview with the Breakfast Club back in February 2019, Harris was asked if she had ever smoked, which she affirmed, and then was asked about what kind of hip hop she was into. The interview has since been used as a vain attempt to demonize her, with Trump, shortly after she was announced as VP, saying she lied about smoking and was a “nasty” woman (very original, mr. president).
What to Expect from Biden-Harris on Federal Marijuana Legalization
There are obviously bigger issues to address first, but even after that – don’t get your hope up
Overall – it seems like we shouldn’t expect much from a Biden-Harris presidency. While this is definitely not exciting news, the silver lining is that at the very least we will not be regressing the movement and all that it has done. If at the very least, Biden were to actively address marijuana during his presidency, based on his word, he would just continue to allow states to continue foraging their own future with marijuana reform. The issue is not something Biden seems to take too seriously, and one Kamala probably wouldn’t go out of her way to fight for or attempt to sway Biden as VP.
The truth is that it would be incredibly difficult for any politician, let alone a president, to take on marijuana reform as a primary issue. Whenever anyone takes a strong stance on it, they have a tendency to become labeled a pot advocate, and that label can overshadow other positions and ideals, probably because a large majority of American’s across the political spectrum support legalization and recognize the social significance of such a change. And with a long history in America of marijuana being used as some sort of unspeakable evil that only black and brown people use (and could drive them to violent behavior or the rape of white women), there are just too many dinosaurs in Washington that either aren’t in a position to or just flat out unwilling to evolve on the issue, no matter how much contrary evidence to their position is presented.
So when it comes to a Biden and Harris presidency vs. marijuana reform, you can expect what we’ve come to expect from the Democratic establishment and career politicians – not much of anything.