Biden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE defended his reasoning to not legalize marijuana on a federal level if elected president, saying there is not “enough evidence” as to “whether or not it is a gateway drug.”

Speaking at a town hall in Las Vegas on Saturday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said whether the U.S. should legalize cannabis on a federal level is still up for debate as far as he is concerned.

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“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said, according to Business Insider. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

Biden, as he has throughout his time on the campaign trail, said he supports medical marijuana and insisted possession of the substance "should not be a crime."

But he also said Saturday that he thinks the decision to legalize marijuana should be left up to individual states.

“States should be able to make a judgment to legalize marijuana,” he said at the town hall.

As for legalization on a federal level, Biden said more research is needed.

"It is not irrational to do more scientific investigation to determine, which we have not done significantly enough, whether or not there are any things that relate to whether it's a gateway drug or not," Biden said.

Several of his top Democratic rivals in the race have thrown their support behind legalizing marijuana, which is currently classified as 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 and LSD.

Biden’s campaign previously noted the former vice president would reschedule the substance as a Schedule II drug to aid in researching its health impacts.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Julián Castro jabs ICE: 'Delete your account' Booker campaign unveils bilingual training program for Nevada caucus MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (D-Mass.), and Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (I-Vt.) have all said they would make marijuana legal on a federal level if elected president.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Krystal Ball warns about lagging youth support for Buttigieg Saagar Enjeti calls Yang's rise a 'return to the fundamentals of democracy' MORE in a tweet Monday morning said he believes marijuana should be legal throughout the country, a position he has held since releasing a plan that would pardon individuals who are imprisoned for nonviolent marijuana convictions.

--This report was updated on Nov. 18 at 11:16 a.m.