Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced 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 BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAbigail Disney: 'We're creating a super-class' of rich people Is Big Tech biased? The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced 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.