Allies Claim Biden’s Position on Marijuana has Political Benefits



The Justice Department recommended that federal restrictions on marijuana be relaxed, a move that aligns with President Biden’s initiative to liberalize cannabis policy, backed by the fact that over two-thirds of Americans support the legalization of the drug. Biden’s approach to marijuana has been more cautious than some progressives would like, drawing parallels with his approach to student loan forgiveness. Biden’s pardoning of thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession and his initiative to review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, which would reduce restrictions on production and research and increase access to public services for users and business owners, have been largely unopposed by Republicans, reflecting a shift in the American political landscape.

John Fetterman and Joe Biden Discuss Marijuana Legalization

During a 2022 Labor Day meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s then lieutenant governor, Democrat John Fetterman, urged President Biden to adopt a bold stance on marijuana legalization. The meeting took place in the midst of Fetterman’s successful run for the U.S. Senate.

The Justice Department’s recent recommendation to ease federal restrictions on marijuana may indicate an alignment with Fetterman’s views. Biden’s administration has taken steps to liberalize the nation’s cannabis policy, aligning with public sentiment as over two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization.

President Biden, known for his professional demeanor, is transforming into a champion for marijuana law reform. His approach could win the support of young voters, who favor reclassification of marijuana, and those advocating for changes in criminal justice laws. Some allies wish Biden would be more vocal on this issue.

Biden’s Evolution on Cannabis Reform

President Biden has gone from advocating tough-on-crime policies to endorsing milder approaches towards marijuana usage. As President, he has pardoned thousands convicted of marijuana possession under federal law and directed a review of marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug. While Biden has promoted these actions, he has been quiet about the rescheduling of marijuana recently.

Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon believes that Biden should capitalize on the political benefits of cannabis reform, similar to how the Democratic party maintained Senate control, thanks to campaigns like Fetterman’s that advocated for marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Policy Adoption

So far, 38 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and 24 states along with D.C. have legalized it for recreational use. Despite this widespread acceptance, it’s unclear if marijuana policy holds the same significance for younger voters as issues like abortion rights or the economy. Biden’s cautious approach to marijuana law reform echoes how he managed student loan forgiveness.

Republican Response to Biden’s Marijuana Policy

Republicans, such as Representative Dave Joyce of Ohio and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, downplay the impact of Biden’s policy. However, the lack of fervent Republican opposition indicates a shift in American political attitudes towards marijuana.

“The reefer madness caucus is probably smaller than the ‘I like to shoot my dog’ caucus,” said Fetterman, highlighting the decreasing opposition to marijuana legalization.

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