Most of the poll-leading Democrats running for president have said they support the nationwide legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
The lone exception atop the polls: former vice president Joe Biden.
Biden has proposed decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging all prior convictions. He also supports the use of cannabis for medical purposes and reclassifying it so the federal government can study its impact.
“Biden believes no one should be in jail because of cannabis use,” his campaign’s criminal justice policy says.
But Biden falls short of calling for the nationwide legalization of recreational marijuana. He proposes leaving that decision to the states.
Biden came under fire from some of his fellow candidates when, during a November town hall event in Nevada, he suggested more study is needed to determine whether marijuana is a gateway to use of other drugs. He later told reporters that he was saying some in the medical community feel more research is needed.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some research suggests marijuana use is likely to precede the use of other legal and illegal drugs. However, the majority of individuals who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances, according to the institute.
“There are serious medical folks who say we should study it more,” Biden said in a late November conference call with reporters, according to a transcription by the Nevada Independent news site. “There’s enough serious scientists who say let’s give us a little more chance to actually study it. And that’s what I’ve said. But I don’t think it’s a gateway drug. There’s no evidence I’ve seen that suggests that.”
Most of the other front-running candidates have supported the