During a campaign stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he supports “mandatory rehabilitation” for “anybody convicted of a drug crime.”
During the remarks – first reported by Marijuana Moment – the former vice president clarified that rehab would not be for crimes including “massive selling, but consumption.”
“Instead of building more prisons, as I’ve been proposing for some time, we build rehabilitation centers… They’ve got to go to mandatory rehab, but it’s not part of the record when they get out if they finish it.” – Biden during remarks in Kenosha, Sept. 3, 2020
Biden’s campaign platform includes a criminal justice system “focused on redemption and rehabilitation” but makes no mention of “mandatory” rehab for those convicted of drug crimes.
Maritza Perez, director of national affairs for Drug Policy Action, told Marijuana Moment that Biden’s plan for “coerced treatment will inevitably result in forcing people who do not have substance use disorders or who would naturally recover into services.”
Perez instead suggested expanding “access to substance use disorder treatment and other support services that are attractive and affordable to increase voluntary treatment where appropriate.”
“Biden’s proposal would merely waste resources that could be used for people who actually want and could benefit from treatment,” she said in the report.
The Biden campaign – which includes former California attorney general and current Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris as the vice president pick – has stopped short at every opportunity to support broad cannabis legalization policies.
Last month, Harris said in an ABC News interview that a Biden Administration would pursue policies to decriminalize cannabis possession and enact some police reforms. In May, the campaign announced a “Plan for Black America” that calls for cannabis decriminalization, expungement of convictions related to cannabis use, and ending “all incarceration for drug use alone,” opting instead for drug courts and treatment.
Harris is one of the sponsors of the MORE Act, or Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which would federally legalize cannabis and reinvest some proceeds into supporting over-policed communities. The House is set to vote on that measure this month.
The Democratic Party did not include broad cannabis legalization in its 2020 platform.