Photo by Gage Skidmore
Less than 10 days after Joe Biden told a town hall group in Las Vegas that he thought marijuana might be a “gateway” drug to hard narcotics, the former US Vice President has officially walked back his controversial and factually inaccurate anti-cannabis statement.
According to Marijuana Moment, Biden retracted his gateway theory claims in a phone call with Nevada Independent reporter Megan Messerly. When asked to clarify his town hall statement from the week prior, Biden said that he does not believe cannabis is a gateway drug, and added that “there’s no evidence to suggest that.”
But, while Biden was quick to cave to criticism of his long-debunked gateway statement, the 2020 presidential hopeful did not waver on his broader anti-legalization stance.
“With regard to the total legalization of it, there are some in the medical community who say it needs to be made a Schedule II drug so there can be research studies, as not whether it is a gateway drug but whether or not it, when used in other combinations, may have a negative impact on people overcoming other problems, including, in fact, on young people in terms of brain development — a whole range of things that are beyond my expertise,” Biden told Messerly on a conference call with a number of reporters. “There are serious medical folks who say we should study it more. Not that we should make it illegal, that we should be in a position where we criminalize it but where we should look at it.”
At the top of the 2020 Democratic field, Biden stands out for his opposition to cannabis legalization. While Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all released policy plans to end prohibition if they are elected, Biden has been staunch in his preference for nationwide rescheduling and decriminalization, without the addition of a legal market.
As the race for next year’s nomination heats up, Biden’s competitors have begun to use his cannabis stance as an attack point. In the latest Democratic debate, Sen. Booker told Biden — and a national TV audience — that he thought Biden “might have been high” when he called marijuana a gateway drug.
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