Biden Could Enact Broad Changes in Drug Policy

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The stage is set for a Biden administration to potentially oversee broad changes in federal drug policy, including how the government classifies the use of marijuana, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

This despite the fact that President-elect Joe Biden has been known throughout his political career as a fighter in the “war on drugs,” backing bills as a senator that included severe penalties for some drug offenses.

Biden will take office at a time when, despite a wide gulf in political differences, there appears to have crystallized a relatively bipartisan view on drugs, especially the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

For example, in the November election, voters in both red states and blue states backed ballot initiatives to legalize the personal use of marijuana.

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This change comes as marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, which means users and suppliers can be prosecuted even where the drug is otherwise legally sold and used.

Although Biden was one of the few Democrat candidates in the primaries who didn’t support federal legalization of marijuana for recreational use, he softened his stance during the general election campaign, stating that it should be decriminalized and that each state should decide on the issue.


Backers of marijuana use are now organizing to make sure Biden sticks to this campaign pledge.

Even if Congress fails to pass legislation legalizing marijuana, the pro-reform Drug Policy Alliance director of national affairs Maritza Perez said Biden can unilaterally reschedule marijuana to a higher classification or even remove it from the list by declassifying it.

However, University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin, a leading expert on marijuana laws, is skeptical that Biden will aggressively pursue this path because it could upend international drug control treaties, while rescheduling it could undercut state medical marijuana laws.

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