Progressive Democrats have been pushing for federal legalization of marijuana but it looks like Joe Biden’s Democrat Party isn’t going for it. The party recently rejected a marijuana legalization amendment to its 2020 party platform.
This rejection came despite the fact that two-thirds of the U.S. supports legalization, according to Pew Research 2019 data. The study found that a majority of Republicans — 55 percent — and a majority of Democrats — 78 percent — are in favor of legalization.
The Democratic National Committee rejected an amendment on July 27 to put a plank supporting marijuana legalization into the party’s platform, Marijuana Moment reported. The final vote was 50-106 against.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden has maintained the position that marijuana should be decriminalized but not legalized. He points to the debunked “gateway drug theory,” which even the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has acknowledged lacks scientific merit, Forbes reported.
While the platform will keep language that Biden hammered out with a criminal justice task force that included Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I–Vt.) supporters, it doesn’t include marijuana legalization. It does, however, call for federal reforms.
“Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level. We will support legalization of medical marijuana, and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level. All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged,” the platform statement reads.
U.S. citizens have been urging politicians to legalize marijuana, not just decriminalize it. “While decriminalization is an improvement, it leaves in place mechanisms for unequal enforcement, and research shows that Black people are more likely to still be arrested or punished for marijuana possession than white people in states where marijuana has only been decriminalized,” Reason reported. “Overall, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana arrest rates in states where the drug has been decriminalized are about eight times higher than in states where it has been fully legalized.”
It seems to many to be the perfect time for legalization. Legalization would drastically reduce the over-policing of Black communities. “Legalizing marijuana is about undoing a century of racist drug policy that disproportionately targets Black and Latino communities — an issue ripe for the Democrats to own. Not to mention job creation,” Forbes reported.
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Biden keeps pushing back on legalization, making it no longer a blue state issue. Some are questioning Biden’s tactics, as legalization could lure in voters. Marijuana legalization has been touted as the “superweapon” that Biden refuses to use.
Some say he could even pull in Republican voters, who view marijuana legalization in terms of big business. Marijuana has been designated an essential business responsible for creating at least 250,000 new jobs across the country.
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