In a campaign video released April 25, former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president of the United States—but he doesn’t appear to support cannabis reform even though nearly every other presidential candidate does. That issue alone could push him into an unpopular category.
In Biden’s announcement video, he mentioned the decline in American values, including clips of unflattering moments in American history such as the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that led to the death of a protester. “The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America, America, is at stake,” Biden said in the video. “That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
But as recently as April 11, Biden sent signals that he doesn’t support allowing medical cannabis as a replacement for opioids. Marijuana Moment reports that at a University of Pennsylvania event, Psychobiology Prof. Bertha Madras claimed that medical cannabis isn’t effective and that it can’t effectively replace opioids. “At this point there are two conclusions. Number one, the data does not show that cannabis is a substitute, because if you actually do longitudinal studies on an individual basis, you find that people are suffering as much pain if they’re taking marijuana, and their opioid use is not decreasing in most cases,” claimed Madras. “In fact, they’re getting more and more in trouble, in terms of developing opioid use disorder and they’re misusing opioids.” After the speech, Biden applauded enthusiastically.
Biden has even been called “the architect of America’s disastrous War on Drugs” by the Foundation for Economic Education. While Biden was instrumental in some positive policy changes surrounding medical cannabis like the Cole Memo during the Obama administration, his past indicates that he is typically tough on drugs, including cannabis. Biden filed several bills dating back to the Reagan administration, which were aimed at targeting drug traffickers and kingpins, including legislation to impose the death penalty.
Hopefully Biden will take notice that medical and recreational cannabis are now bipartisan issues, and very popular issues, and taking a stance against that could be considered political suicide. The overcrowded field of 20 Democratic candidates presents a unique scenario, and anything could happen this early in the race.