Former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said during a town hall event in Las Vegas that he does not support federal cannabis legalization because of the lack of evidence “whether or not it is a gateway drug.” He did, however, support the federal legalization of medical cannabis and the federal decriminalization.
In the Fox News video, Biden said that he believed that states “should be able to make a judgement” to legalize cannabis but that the federal government should “know a lot more about the science” of cannabis before federal legalization.
“… I want to move it from a … Schedule I drug to a Schedule III so you can, in fact, do [research]. I support the use of medical marijuana but here’s the deal … it should not be a crime. It should be, to the extent that is exists and anyone who’s ever been convicted of use of marijuana and put in jail that should be immediately released, their record should be immediately expunged … and it is not irrational to do more scientific investigation … to determine whether it’s a gateway drug or not.” – Biden, Las Vegas Town Hall, Nov. 17, 2019, via Fox News
During his remarks, Biden admitted he needed “more data” related to cannabis legalization but that “no one should go to jail” for cannabis “period.”
According to a USA Today report, all of the Democratic candidates approve some form of cannabis law reform, whether it be a let-the-states-decide approach or supporting legislation to end federal prohibition.
Among the frontrunners for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has indicated he would legalize cannabis federally within his first 100 days in office. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports the decriminalization of all drugs. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act which includes cannabis legalization and criminal justice-related reforms.