20 votes

The marijuana superweapon Biden refuses to use

12 comments

  1. [7]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I think this article raises a lot of great points about Joe Biden's views towards marijuana legalization. Joe's claims that he is concerned on the effects of marijuana use on physical and mental...

    I think this article raises a lot of great points about Joe Biden's views towards marijuana legalization. Joe's claims that he is concerned on the effects of marijuana use on physical and mental health seems a bit at odds with the fact that alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all perfectly legal.

    The article also raises a number of issues regarding how the War on Drugs is leading to disproportionate incarceration of people of color for minor non-violent offenses, that legalization can provide a significant boon to state budgets when they are facing significant deficits from COVID-19, and that it could provide a significant enthusiasm boost to a campaign that is having a difficult time connecting with younger voters.

    Here is what the article says about where Biden's views are now, which was not entirely clear to me before reading this piece:

    Amid the criticism that Biden hasn’t taken a definitive stance on legalization, it’s easy to lose track of how far ahead he is of any other major-party presidential nominee in history in terms of changing marijuana policy. He’d decriminalize use, which would mean fines instead of jail time, and move to expunge records for using. He’d remove federal enforcement in states that have legalized the drug. That’s further, by far, than Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, has gone. Biden would move marijuana off as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same category as heroin, but would not take it off the illegal-drugs schedule entirely, so that federal law would treat it the way it does alcohol or nicotine.

    Biden’s compromise: going right to the edge of legalization, while appointing a criminal-justice task force for his campaign whose members have each supported at least some approach to legalization. But that sort of signaling doesn’t get people to the polls. “Being cute is fine. Being bold is motivating,” Ben Wessel, the director of NextGen America, a group focused on boosting political involvement among younger voters, told me.

    This does seem like some significant steps forward, but they also seem like ones we should have been making 20 or 30 years ago.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      Drug policy in the US is hard. Not in the least because of how bad the war on drugs and opioid epidemic truly has left the state of the country currently. We have to deal with that situation, and...

      Drug policy in the US is hard. Not in the least because of how bad the war on drugs and opioid epidemic truly has left the state of the country currently. We have to deal with that situation, and the realities of the alternatives available now, not the alternatives we wished were available (like a gun control discussion that doesn't acknowledge today's prevalence of guns).


      People using drugs is bad for health and huge costs for society. That's the same for legal and illegal drugs. The questions are is if the benefits outweigh the costs, and what sorts of things society should prevent individuals from doing to themselves because an individual's actions affect society.

      Alcohol can be super easily made. It effectively can't be banned (and attempting to do so during prohibition was a terrible idea that decision-makers at the time should have recognized as a terrible idea because so many of their contemporaries did).

      Alcohol being easy to make doesn't mean anything that's less harmful should be legal. If fermented grass created fentanyl, society shouldn't allow all narcotics weaker than fentanyl.


      I think it's perfectly legitimate to question the legality of tobacco while cannabis is illegal. If discovered today, tobacco would surely be illegal. There are also the legitimate religious claims of its use by different indigenous populations.

      The cultural and economic pressures to keep tobacco legal seem to be the determining factor. If its use continue to go down year by year, I could see it potentially be outlawed outside ceremonial use.


      There are very legitimate incarceration-related arguments for changing cannabis laws.

      There are also those who just want to get high and disregard the strong mental and physiological effects the drug has.

      There are legitimate medicinal arguments, but they drown in so much "medical" marijuana use that in reality is just recreational drug use.

      There are those whose lives get ruined by pot. There are those who think people should be free to ruin their lives by drug use as long as society then just abandons them.


      This is hard. The different pros and cons and best ways of legislation are compound.

      I don't think congress is ready for a nuanced debate to actually fix the state of drugs right now. Other things like mental healthcare and other things that interact with both opioids and cannabis have to be a central part of the conversation.

      5 votes
      1. Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        I frankly don't have the energy to get into a debate about how to deal with drugs, other than to say that other countries with extremely progressive takes such as complete decriminalization often...

        I frankly don't have the energy to get into a debate about how to deal with drugs, other than to say that other countries with extremely progressive takes such as complete decriminalization often have lower rates of crime, less issues with public health with regards to drug abuse, and generally better outcomes. It is actually quite easy to deal with drugs, and I want to highlight that with the following quote of yours:

        The questions are is if the benefits outweigh the costs, and what sorts of things society should prevent individuals from doing to themselves because an individual's actions affect society.

        Here's the thing - it doesn't matter what laws society wants to impose upon its individuals, if the individuals are not going to be significantly swayed by said laws. Drug laws have been proven time and time again to not work - people are still going to pursue and use said drugs. Prohibition was proof that this doesn't work. The opioid crisis is proof that this doesn't work.

        It is far more efficient and better for society to assume that the people that want to do drugs are going to find a way to do these drugs and instead focus on minimizing the harmful effects on society instead.

        17 votes
      2. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        I think a strong point in favor of legalization of marijuana is exactly the issue of the opioid epidemic that you reference. Studies have concluded that marijuana legalization corresponds with...

        I think a strong point in favor of legalization of marijuana is exactly the issue of the opioid epidemic that you reference.

        Studies have concluded that marijuana legalization corresponds with significant reductions of opioid related deaths.

        The study examined how the changing legal status of marijuana has impacted mortality in the United States over the past two decades. Investigators found that legalization and access to recreational marijuana reduced annual opioid mortality in the range of 20% to 35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids.

        "Recreational marijuana laws affect a much larger population than medical marijuana laws, yet we know relatively little about their effects." said co-author Nathan W. Chan, PhD, of University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Focusing on the recent wave of recreational marijuana laws in the U.S., we find that opioid mortality rates drop when recreational marijuana becomes widely available via dispensaries."

        There have also been many studies that medical marijuana can be used to treat pain and significantly decrease use of opioids.

        Given the current health crisis of opioids, legalizing marijuana seems like a very reasonable policy.

        13 votes
      3. andre
        Link Parent
        Yeah, just look at the absolutely disastrous conditions evident since legalization in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and...

        Yeah, just look at the absolutely disastrous conditions evident since legalization in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

        Marijuana use is not ruining society, the vast majority of users face no long-term downsides, and the medicinal benefits are way larger than your casual dismissal of them.

        Legalization does not increase teenage drug use (in fact, more studies than not show a decrease in teen usage 3 years after legalization in Colorado), has no proven correlation with crime, and (to your point) jailing people for years for personal-usage possession is an absolute travesty.

        We haven't even touched on the financial gains from taxation and job creation.

        Marijuana legalization is actually not a hard decision at all.

        7 votes
      4. psi
        Link Parent
        While I think this is a fair point, America leans heavily towards individuality on the individualism-collectivism spectrum (as evinced in gun control, freedom of speech, our piss-poor coronavirus...

        People using drugs is bad for health and huge costs for society.

        While I think this is a fair point, America leans heavily towards individuality on the individualism-collectivism spectrum (as evinced in gun control, freedom of speech, our piss-poor coronavirus response, etc). Obviously one could argue that the US has gone too far towards individualism or that we should make a narrow exception for certain drugs in particular, but generally America permits individuals to wittingly partake in activities to their own (and sometimes another's) detriment.

        2 votes
    2. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Not really. Biden is a politician and as such he tends to take current policy and the sentiments of the public into account for his stances and public statements. Those drugs are already legal and...

      Joe's claims that he is concerned on the effects of marijuana use on physical and mental health seems a bit at odds with the fact that alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all perfectly legal.

      Not really. Biden is a politician and as such he tends to take current policy and the sentiments of the public into account for his stances and public statements. Those drugs are already legal and require no action to remain as such. Prohibition is politically costly and probably a bad idea (remember Al Capone?). If marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco had the same legal status than yes, it would be weird to single to single out marijuana. But that’s not the case.

      2 votes
  2. CALICO
    Link
    I found the wording of this sentence as ambiguous: One reading could give the impression that alcohol & nicotine are scheduled, and removing cannabis from Schedule 1 would have federal law...

    I found the wording of this sentence as ambiguous:

    Biden would move marijuana off as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same category as heroin, but would not take it off the illegal-drugs schedule entirely, so that federal law would treat it the way it does alcohol or nicotine.

    One reading could give the impression that alcohol & nicotine are scheduled, and removing cannabis from Schedule 1 would have federal law treating it the same as the aforementioned. Neither nicotine nor alcohol are scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. It would take de-scheduling for cannabis to be treated similarly to nicotine or alcohol.


    I'll be pleased with any kind of progress, but I won't be happy while it's meaningfully restricted at the Federal Level. Something that often gets looked over in these sorts of conversations are Federal Civilian Employees. Federal employees aren't just a few of suits in D.C., they include those working for the Department of Veteran Affairs, National Parks Service, Patent and Trademark Office, National Science Foundation, United States Postal Service, and many other offices. More than 2.5 Million people, all told.

    Today, recreational use is permitted in eleven States (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), and the District of Columbia.

    According to the Office of Personnel Management in 2017, and the Census Bureau in 2012, that is nearly three-quarters of a million people living in a recreational state who are restricted from partaking without losing their career.

    Medical States (counting only no THC restrictions or CBD only)? 1.6 million people can't use cannabis for medical purposes, because they work for the Federal Government in some capacity.

    None of that count us dirty government contractors, of which finding numbers for is extraordinarily difficult.

    Biden gets my vote because the alternative is Trump, and I see voting for anyone but him as a waste and an unnecessary risk in these times.
    He does not get my vote because I'm super jazzed about his position on this.

    7 votes
  3. [3]
    StellarTabi
    Link
    Not just Biden, Trump also refuses to use it. I think it's going to be a close race, like extremely close. Even if it were less close than I'm thinking of, I think if one of them promised to...

    Not just Biden, Trump also refuses to use it. I think it's going to be a close race, like extremely close. Even if it were less close than I'm thinking of, I think if one of them promised to legalize marijuana, they would win.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_policy_of_the_Donald_Trump_administration

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      There is no way in hell that Donald Trump, who made Jeff Sessions his Attorney General, is going to all of a sudden back national marijuana legalization. Jeff Sessions’s Endless War on Marijuana -...

      There is no way in hell that Donald Trump, who made Jeff Sessions his Attorney General, is going to all of a sudden back national marijuana legalization.

      Trump's vague pro-marijuana claims in the run-up to the 2016 election was the same meaningless pandering that he gave to the LGBT community. He is a liar and knew that if he made some vaguely supportive comments he would have plenty of dupes to hype him up without having to actually follow through.

      10 votes
      1. EscReality
        Link Parent
        The issue is that he meaningless panders to both sides. Trump isn't any more a bible toting Conservative than he is a weed smoking LGBT supporter. He is there for his own personal interests and is...

        The issue is that he meaningless panders to both sides. Trump isn't any more a bible toting Conservative than he is a weed smoking LGBT supporter. He is there for his own personal interests and is willing to use and lie to anyone that allows him to continue.

        I 100% could see him backing legal weed at the last second as a audible .

        8 votes
  4. knocklessmonster
    Link
    And, unfortunately, there has been recent research that finds a decline in mental faculties with regular marijuana use. It's closer to alcohol, heavy, regular use can cause permament problems with...

    He’s looking for something definitive to assure him that legalizing won’t lead to serious mental or physical problems, in teens or adults.

    And, unfortunately, there has been recent research that finds a decline in mental faculties with regular marijuana use. It's closer to alcohol, heavy, regular use can cause permament problems with retaining memories. Advocates always like to pretend there are no long-term effects, when it would be more beneficial to simply align it with acceptable drugs, rather than somehow better than them. Marijuana also has immense medical potential, but there is still the potential for long-term negative effects. In many ways it's a miracle drug, but it's also got some monkey's paw tendencies, like any psychoactive or hallucinogen.

    If Biden is the extra-competent dude the article wants to assume he is, he may be considering this sort of thing. He may be playing his cards close to his chest. I don't know, and I'm not willing to bet he's the perfect candidate that would play it like this. I think he's playing conservatively to not jeopardize his position and win as many people as possible. Which other Democrat is running against him with a pro-cannabis agenda? Ooh, yeah, none. So, as long as Trump doesn't play that card, he doesn't have to and risk actively alienating a large swath of the country. Instead, he's playing the card that'll passively alienate a very small number of people who won't vote for him because he hasn't spoken up about cannabis.

    4 votes