Former Vice President Joe Biden 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.
"As he said [Tuesday], Vice President BidenJoe BidenNew York woman arrested after allegedly spitting on Jewish children Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE 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.
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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.