Biden backs decriminalizing marijuana

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE supports decriminalizing marijuana use and possession, but believes that the question of whether to legalize the drug rests with the states, a spokesperson for his presidential campaign said Thursday.

Biden first signaled his support for decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday during a house party in New Hampshire.

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“As he said [Tuesday], Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana,” Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

“He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don’t have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer. “

Bates said Biden would ultimately leave legalization of the substance up to the states, but added that, if elected, the former vice president would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would make it easier to research.

“He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana’s positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a schedule 2 drug,” Bates said.

Marijuana is currently considered a Schedule I substance, which the Drug Enforcement Administration defines as drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and peyote.

Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl, are also considered by the federal government to have a high potential for abuse, but may have an accepted medical use.

Biden’s views on marijuana were first reported on Thursday by CNN.

Over his more than three-decade career in the Senate, Biden opposed the notion of legalizing marijuana. He also supported measures intended to crack down on drug use and drug-related crime that many Democrats now argue contributed to mass incarceration.

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have expressed support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, including Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.).

So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana and 33 states have approved the substance for medical use.

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