In past issues of Kanna Knowledge, we’ve talked about how Vice President Kamala Harris’s past role as Senate sponsor of the MORE Act should bode well for the prospects of cannabis deschedulization and decriminalization. And we’ve covered how the presumptive Attorney General Merrick Garland will moderate the stances of his Trump-administration predecessors. But the elephant in the room — actually, we should be saying donkey — is the not-so-small matter of where President Joe Biden stands.
It’s become clear that the move for changing federal drug policy is not a red issue or blue issue — voters on both sides of the aisle are pro-legalization and voted for passage of the recent ballot initiatives in five states. This is a sign of changing attitudes across the nation, and as a rule, successful politicians are known for their willingness to change with the times. Kamala Harris went from drug law enforcer to chief sponsor of the MORE Act. Can Joe Biden do this as well?
While Biden was at one time a backer of tough anti-drug measures, he has softened over time. During his primary campaign, Biden did not support cannabis legalization, stating he believed it could be a dangerous gateway drug. However, once he secured the party nomination and the general campaign began, he advocated for federal decriminalization with states make the decisions to allow recreational use.
The clearest statement made was during the Vice-Presidential debate, when Kamala Harris said the Biden-Harris administration “would decriminalize marijuana, and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted.”
Biden’s nomination for secretary of Health and Human Services is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who supports his state’s legalization. Some industry watchers believe this is a good sign for rescheduling cannabis to categories II through V, should there be no immediate action by Congress. Biden may also be able to reinstate the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, cancelled by President Trump, that pledged the federal government would not enforce penalties against states that legalized cannabis.
Most experts believe that Biden will, at the least, take action to make treatment programs more accessible. He has stated he does not want to see people incarcerated solely for drug crimes. Among his campaign promises was to spend $125 billion over 10 years on prevention, including support for local programs such as needle exchanges.
Public pressure will have a large influence on what actions Biden takes in his first 100 days. For those who would like to make their views know, the time is definitely right now.
Photo Source: whitehouse.gov