Members of a criminal justice task force created to inform presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign have been discussing marijuana legalization—a policy the former vice president continues to oppose.
Most of the group—which consists of advisors appointed by both Biden and former primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—support ending cannabis prohibition, and advocates have held out hope that they would recommend that Biden adopt the policy platform in the run-up to the November election.
While some members have publicly talked about the issue since joining the task force, including Linn County, Iowa Supervisor Stacey Walker, who recently commented on the need for reform in light of racial disparities in marijuana criminalization, a new report from Politico appears to be the first confirmation that the group itself is actively considering a formal recommendation on the policy change.
“Multiple people said marijuana policy has been discussed on the criminal justice panel, one of the policy groups of the unity task force,” the outlet reported. “Sanders appointees have advocated for legalization. Some Biden appointees personally support legalizing pot and have debated putting the policy in the panel’s recommendations to the former vice president, according to two people familiar with its deliberations.”
A majority of panel members appointed from both camps have previously gone on record in favor of legalization. That includes Tennessee Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D), former federal prosecutor Chiraag Bains, former Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Walker.
“There’s an opportunity to advance a really bold agenda on criminal justice,” Bains, a Sanders-appointee to the task force, said. “This is part of envisioning a completely different future, not returning to a pre-Trump era. I say that as someone who served proudly in the Obama administration. We just have to be much