How Will Joe Biden Affect the Marijuana Industry?
Joe Biden on the Legal Status of Cannabis
Joe Biden on the Cannabis Industry
Could President Joe Biden Legalize Marijuana?
In a word: no. Unilaterally, the Biden administration lacks the power to make recreational marijuana or even medical marijuana federally legal. Biden’s powers only go so far as to reschedule the drug, from its current Schedule I status, on parallel with heroin, to Schedule II, on parallel with cocaine. However, cannabis businesses do not want this.
For the marijuana industry, rescheduling is an insufficient measure. It has been criticized as pandering to the anti-drug lobby, as not being based on science, and as being anti-business. Industry leaders and academics both have criticized cannabis rescheduling, warning that it would undermine the extant legal marijuana industry by enshrining the substance’s research and development as a solely pharmaceutical endeavor. Rescheduling as Schedule II, and federal enforcement of those standards, would lead to the shutdown of all present state-legal activities. For business to continue as normal, the cannabis industry would need to lobby for an exemption along the same lines as those that the alcohol and tobacco industries currently enjoy. Many small marijuana businesses would be pushed out, consolidating the control of the industry between a handful of corporations. This would likely lead to a negative effect on employment and tax income for affected states. Sean Donahoe, an Oakland, California-based cannabis industry consultant, says “His stance is to blow up 90 percent of the existing regulated and traditional market…shows [Biden’s] fundamental worldview is framed through a corporate lens with no regard for existing operators, nor good public policy.”
Joe Biden on the War on Drugs
The Democrats in general are in favor of criminal justice reform to correct the trend of federal mass incarceration, which began in the 1970s but escalated in terms of drug-related prison sentences in the 90s and early 21st century. Joe Biden’s marijuana policy involves decriminalizing marijuana use, automatically expunging prior possession convictions, and deferring to states with regard to rules about recreational use. This is a considerable departure from his previous stances on marijuana as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he drafted and supported federal drug legislation that was ‘tough on crime’, including the advocation of civil asset forfeiture. His ostensible goal was to combat drug trafficking and a burgeoning crime wave. He worked with the Reagan administration to establish the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which rapidly soaked up more and more federal funding, and the role of the ‘drug czar’.
Perhaps his change of heart on these issues is because his children have been speaking to him about their own experiences. In 1998, his daughter Ashley Biden was arrested in Louisiana for possession of marijuana, though appeared to evade any serious legal ramifications. His son Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine in 2014.
Is There Popular Support for Legal Cannabis?
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