It has become crucial for marijuana enthusiasts to understand where Biden and Trump stand concerning federal cannabis legalization with November just around the corner. America is more than ready for federal legalization, with 67% of Americans supporting it, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center.
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Will Trump’s Silence on Federal Legalization Continue?
During his tenure, the Republican president has been exceptionally quiet regarding the cannabis federal laws.He had indeed taken no legislative action against cannabis, but he has taken no step for it, either.
However, he has been vocal about supporting states’ rights to make their individual decisions on marijuana legalization – whether medicinal or recreational.
On being asked whether he can be expected to legalize marijuana under his presidency, he told Washington Examiner, “We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject, and right now, we are allowing states to make that decision. A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.”
In his 2016 campaign, Trump said that he supported the legalization of medicinal marijuana on a federal level. He further added that broader legalization should be a state issue. However, he took no action on the former comment in the four years of his presidential tenure.
However, he did hire Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who has been a vocal opponent of medicinal cannabis. As part of the 2021 fiscal year budget plan, they proposed repealing an existing policy that protected the state laws from the Justice Department’s interference regarding the “use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Congress rejected the proposal.
The director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign, Marc Lotter, told Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS TV, “I think what the president is looking at is this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs. They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”
Trump has been vocal about almost every issue under the sun, but his silence on the federal legalization of cannabis speaks volumes about his stance on the subject. It is highly doubtful that a new tenure in the oval office would bring about significant changes in his views regarding the matter.
Will Biden’s Changing Views on Marijuana Last Post Victory?
Biden’s firm stance against total marijuana law reform is no news for Americans. In his 2008 presidential campaign, Biden said that he would not use federal forces to interfere with state laws on medicinal marijuana.
However, he added, “We have not devoted nearly enough science or time to deal with the pain management and chronic pain management that exists. There’s got to be a better answer than marijuana. There’s got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem.”
Biden promised to “decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions” in his recent “Plan for Black America”, released this spring.
Since becoming the Democratic nominee, Biden’s views on cannabis have certainly changed. As the vice-president during the Obama administration, he had openly opposed decriminalization, and as a senator, he had made some harsh, aggressive anti-drug laws.
As recent as last April, his anti-cannabis views clearly stood the same when he lauded a co-panelist’s rant against legislative action for medicinal cannabis as a substitute to opioids at a University of Pennsylvania forum.
However, in the past year, his stance has changed radically. In his Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice, he states that while he will leave legalizing marijuana consumption for recreational purposes up to the states, he will definitely “support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.”
Stef Feldman, Biden’s policy director, told the Atlantic last July, “When he looked to put down his position on marijuana in writing for the purpose of the campaign, he asked for an update on where science was today. He didn’t ask for an update on what views and science said 20 years ago. He wanted to know what was the best information we know now. And that is what he made his decision on.”
For a cannabis-conscious-voter, neither of the two candidates seem ideal for marijuana policy reforms on the federal level. Senator Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, has changed her stance and come out as a vocal supporter for federal marijuana legalization. Still, it’s ambiguous whether Harris’ views would affect Biden’s decisions if come November, they can win their place in the oval office.