Biden-Sanders “Unity Taskforce” presents cannabis recommendations, making no one happy

Jul 10, 2020

In a somewhat disappointing but not unexpected move, the joint Joe Biden - Bernie Sanders “Unity Taskforce” announced this week its platform recommendations for cannabis, outlining a plan that is mostly in line with the presumptive Democratic nominee’s stated positions on the drug.

“Decriminalize marijuana use and legalize marijuana for medical purposes at the federal level. Allow states to make their own decisions about legalizing recreational use. Automatically expunge all past marijuana convictions for use and possession,” read a task force document released on Wednesday.

According to a report by Politico, the recommendations have been submitted to the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, which is making preparations for next month’s national convention.

Some reports indicated that advocates were hopeful the former Vice-President would support full-legalization of recreational cannabis, however, to date, Biden has shown no inclination to do so, a move which would have made him go against promises he made on the campaign trail. For now, Biden is content with making cannabis a state’s rights issue, while not entirely removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

With the coronavirus pandemic looming large, and millions of Americans out of work, both Sanders and Biden have turned the bulk of their attention towards beating Donald Trump in November. Right now, polls give Biden a sizeable lead.

“For the millions of Americans facing hardship due to President Trump’s failed coronavirus response, this election offers the chance to usher in a stronger, fairer economy that works for our working families,” said Vice President Joe Biden in a statement. “I commend the Task Forces for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country. And I am deeply grateful to Senator Sanders for working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.”

Cannabis legalization enjoys broad support in the country. According to a Pew Research Center survey from late last year, two-thirds of Americans support it, with the number of those against at only 32 percent. The numbers still split along party lines, however, with Pew noting that “there are wide partisan and generational differences in views of marijuana legalization. Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78 [percent]) say marijuana use should be legal. Republicans and Republican leaners are less supportive, with 55 [percent] in favor of legalization and 44 [percent] opposed.”

Sen. Sanders tweeted his support for the recommendations earlier this week, noting that while it wasn’t ideal, it was something with which he was happy. “Though the end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country,” said Sanders.

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