Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Trump says Giuliani is still his lawyer Sondland to tell Congress 'no quid pro quo' from Trump: report MORE supports decriminalizing marijuana use and possession, but believes that the question of whether to legalize the drug rests with the states, a spokesperson for his presidential campaign said Thursday.

Biden first signaled his support for decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday during a house party in New Hampshire.

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"As he said [Tuesday], Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana,” Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

“He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don’t have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer. “

Bates said Biden would ultimately leave legalization of the substance up to the states, but added that, if elected, the former vice president would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would make it easier to research.

“He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana’s positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a schedule 2 drug,” Bates said.

Marijuana is currently considered a Schedule I substance, which the Drug Enforcement Administration defines as drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and peyote.

Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl, are also considered by the federal government to have a high potential for abuse, but may have an accepted medical use.

Biden’s views on marijuana were first reported on Thursday by CNN.

Over his more than three-decade career in the Senate, Biden opposed the notion of legalizing marijuana. He also supported measures intended to crack down on drug use and drug-related crime that many Democrats now argue contributed to mass incarceration.

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have expressed support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, including Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerO'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Rubio hits Warren's 'crude' and 'vulgar' response to opposition to same-sex marriage Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' Three 2020 candidates have missed about half of Senate votes MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren MORE (I-Vt.).

So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana and 33 states have approved the substance for medical use.