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What Joe Biden’s Presidential Victory Means For Marijuana In 2021

online dispensaries that ship.Publish 3 months ago 

on November 9, 2020

ByKyle Jaeger

online dispensaries that ship.Joe Biden

has been project to have won the presidential

election by several major news organizations.

If that sticks when all the votes are certified,

and if he fulfills a key campaign promise once

he gets to the White House, federal marijuana

reform will be part of his administration’s legacy.

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Although the Democratic former vice president

has embraced decriminalizing cannabis

possession, expunging past records and

other modest moves, he has faced criticism

over his record pushing punitive anti-drug legislation 

during his time in the Senate. And reform

advocates have similarly taken him to task

over his refusal to join the 

majority of U.S. voters and a supermajority

of those in his own party in embracing broad

adult-use marijuana legalization.

But the political dynamics that will define

marijuana policy in 2021 go beyond the presidency.

Despite the stated pro-reform positions of

both Biden and his running mate,

 Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)—who has her own

questionable record on cannabis criminalization

but became the sponsor of a comprehensive

legalization bill in 2019—the fate of reform still

rests largely on Congress.

But it’s unclear at this point which party will

control the Senate next year, with news outlets

still not ready to project the results of several

races and two Georgia seats appearing to be head

for January runoffs.

Democratic leaders have pledged an end to

federal marijuana prohibition, and if the party

wins the majority, the stage will be set for

far-reaching reform.

But if Republicans maintain control of the Senate,

there will be serious doubt about what kind of pull

a Biden administration could have in moving

marijuana legislation—even if he prioritized the

issue, which remains to be seen. The past two

years have shown time and again that the

GOP-control chamber is simply unwilling to

address the issue in a meaningful way.

Unlike President Trump, Biden has said on the

campaign trail that his administration

 will pursue marijuana decriminalization

and expungements for people with prior cannabis

convictions. He also favors medical cannabis

legalization, modestly rescheduling marijuana

under federal law and letting states set their

own policies without federal intervention.

“We should decriminalize marijuana,”

 he said during a town hall event last month,

adding, “I don’t believe anybody should be

going to jail for drug use.”

But at that same event, he again offered his vision

for an alternative to incarceration for drug

crimes that many advocates oppose

forced drug treatment.

In any case, the likelihood of marijuana reform

under a Biden administration seems more

promising than if Trump were to be reelect

, if not for anything but the lack of clear commitments

the incumbent has made on the issue during

his last four years.

While Trump has voice support for medical

cannabis and says he is in favor of bipartisan

legislation to protect states that legalize marijuana

from federal intervention, he has not pledge any

specific reforms himself. Nor does it seem he has

push Republican lawmakers

to prioritize the issue.

As note, Biden will also be join by Harris when

he enters the Oval Office. The senator—who

has been criticize over her former prosecutorial

record pursuing low-level cannabis cases as a

California district attorney and for campaigning

against legalization in her own state—became

the lead Senate sponsor of a comprehensive bill

to end federal prohibition last year.

She made much of the need to legalize cannabis

during her own unsuccessful run for the 2020

Democratic presidential nomination. However,

her statements on the issue have been temper

since she agree to run alongside Biden, choosing

instead to focus on his more limit decriminalization

and expungements plan.

Harris said last month that she has a “deal” with

Biden to candidly share her perspective on a

range of progressive policies he currently opposes,

 including legalizing marijuana, but she hasn’t

indicated that she would proactively push him in

that direction. The senator also said that month that

the administration would have

 “a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and

expunging the records of people who have been

convict of marijuana offenses.”

Even so, given Biden’s former hostile approach to

drug policy as a legislator and his ongoing

obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time

when polls show that the overwhelming share

of Democrats favor the policy change, there remains

some skepticism about his willingness to make

good on his campaign promises to prioritize

decriminalization or the other reforms he’s discuss.

He did proudly author the infamous 1994 Crime

Bill—legislation that increase penalties for

drug-related crimes and is consider a main facilitator

of mass incarceration—after all, as well as several

1980s-era anti-drug bills. That record is a point

that Trump’s reelection campaign had seize

on, calling Biden the “architect” of the drug war.

Biden, for his part, has conceded that his work on

punitive anti-drug legislation was a “mistake.”

That say, shortly after becoming

the party’s 2020 nominee, the former vice president’s

ongoing opposition to recreational legalization is

suspect of being at least partly behind the

Democratic National Committee platform

committee’s vote against adding the reform

as a 2020 party plank in July.

So it may be incumbent upon Congress to advance

broad legalization after he

takes office.

And the likelihood of that happening will hinge

largely on the makeup of the Senate.

If Democrats reclaim control of the chamber,

those chances will be significantly bolstered.

Senate leadership in this current Congress has

been oppose to taking up reform. Senate Majority

Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for example, is an

adamant opponent of loosening laws on marijuana,

all but ensuring that reform bills would not stand

a chance in his chamber even as he has champion

hemp legalization. Even modest House-passed

legislation focused on banking access for cannabis

businesses never received a vote.

With Democrats back at the reigns, they would be positioned to bring any number of cannabis bills that have been introduced to the floor, including those calling for the end of federal marijuana prohibition. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the current top Democrat in the chamber, who would be expect to be installed as the majority leader come January if the party wins enough of the outstanding races, say last month that he will put his own descheduling bill “in play” and that “I think we’ll have a good chance to pass it.”

Leadership in the House, which is expect to maintain a Democratic majority, albeit a reduce one, has already signal their intention of advancing cannabis reform.

The chamber was expect to hold a floor vote on a comprehensive legalization bill—the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act—in September, but it was ultimately postpone after certain centrist Democrats argue the optics of passing the bill will be bad for them before approving another coronavirus relief package. Leadership has since committed to voting on the legislation, which also contains provisions to fund programs to repair some of the harms of the war on drugs, later this fall.online dispensaries that ship

With a Democratic-control

Senate and the party still in control of the House, it stands to reason that cannabis reform would move in the 117th Congress, even if the pace of that reform and the administration’s role in promoting it remain uncertain.

But if Republicans maintain their majority, the party’s approach to cannabis to date does not indicate leaders would be ready to embrace far-reaching reforms such as the MORE Act. That said, it is possible that banking-focused marijuana legislation—which despite its having stalled so far in the Senate, has significant bipartisan support among the rank and file in both chambers—could move.

It is also not entirely out

of the question that a scaled-down proposal to simply protect people complying with state marijuana laws from federal interference—likely without the social equity and restorative justice components of Schumer’s bill or the MORE Act—could see the light of day. That possibility is boost by the fact that voters in several Republican and swing states approved cannabis ballot measures on Election Day. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the party’s whip, for example, now represents constituents who voted to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana by solid margins.

That said, the most vocal GOP advocate for marijuana reform in the Senate won’t be returning to Capitol Hill next year. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who unsuccessfully led efforts to convince his party to allow cannabis legislation to come to the floor for a vote in the 116th Congress, lost his reelection bid. With him not being around to prod McConnell to consider the issue, it would be up to other lawmakers—perhaps Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) or Rand Paul (R-KY)—to make the case to leaders that the issue is a winning one worth advancing.

Outside of Congress, Biden

could also make moves to advance cannabis reform administratively.

He could, for example, reinstate a version of the Obama-era Justice Department memo that directed federal prosecutors to generally not interfere with state marijuana laws, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in 2018. It is also within the power of the executive branch to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Biden has pledged to make a move to Schedule II, though that would not achieve many of the changes advocates seek.

The president has the unilateral

authority to grant acts of clemency, including pardons and commutations, to people who have been convicted of federal marijuana or other drug offenses. He also gets to appoint an attorney general, drug czar and other officials who will make decisions on how the federal government handles the issue—though many of those officials will be subject to Senate confirmation.

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For his part, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.

But in the end, while Biden

has come around to the idea of removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession, and he is now advocating for clearing the records of those who’ve been punish for such crimes, his longstanding record of opposing reform and embracing punitive drug policies continue to leave questions about what actions he’ll be willing to take post-election.online dispensaries that ship

He remains out of step with the majority of his party and U.S. voters more broadly on the question of legalization, and it doesn’t seem likely that cannabis reform would be at the top of his agenda. That said, his recent pivot in favor of decriminalization and medical cannabis legalization indicates that he recognizes that a tough-on-crime approach to drugs is no longer politically acceptable to voters and signals that further evolution in his position on cannabis is possible.

Seven In Ten Americans Support Marijuana Legalization, New Gallup Poll Shows

Nearly seven in 10 Americans

now support legalizing marijuana nationwide, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. Overall, 68 percent of respondents say they favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, which is “Gallup’s highest reading” since the firm start polling voters on the issue, it says. Last year, the survey found 66 percent support … Continue readingSeven In Ten Americans Support Marijuana Legalization, New Gallup Poll Shows

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