Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation 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 BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report Biden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll Warren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald 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.