Pardon Me? Joe Biden & His Disastrous Drug War
Pardon me, but I thought Joe Biden had made his colors clear when it comes to the “Drug War”? Indeed, he is widely recognized as the architect of America’s Drug War.
As far back as the 1980s, Biden worked hand in hand with Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond to come up with federal anti-drug policies like civil asset forfeiture and mandatory minimum sentences, all while making it easier for the police to use military grade weapons and tactics against private individuals. While Biden was coming up with a 100-times-longer sentencing mandate for crack, Reagan and his associates were conspiring with the Contras to flood American cities with that same addictive substance, as a result providing the bodies needed to fuel the prison-industrial complex.
In 2022, there are just 14 states remaining that don’t have some form of medical or recreational cannabis legalized, and five more states are set to vote on full legalization of adult use this November. With the support of 68% of American voters, the outcomes of these votes are almost a foregone conclusion, but why do we still need to vote for this? Our representatives are supposed to pass these laws so we don't have to, that's the whole point of having a Republic!
Biden could speak up and lend the weight of the Presidency to the MORE Act to end cannabis prohibition, or the SAFE Banking Act which would allow cannabis businesses to use banks and accept credit cards. But he doesn’t, and his silence speaks volumes. While the President can’t pass laws alone, there are some things Uncle Joe can do to begin repenting for his part in creating this mess.
It turns out that the executive branch has a lot of power and flexibility when it comes to drug policy. For starters, Biden doesn’t need Congress to have the DEA and FDA deschedule cannabis. Nor does he require input to order the IRS to exempt state licensed cannabis businesses from Section 280E, the law which forces cannabis businesses to pay an effective tax rate as high as 90%. Again, the silence from Joe Biden is loud and clear.
It is safe to say that Drug War policies created and supported by Biden have ruined the lives of millions of Americans over the last four decades. His unwillingness to use the power of the presidency to begin addressing the harms caused by his failed policies tells us everything we need to know about the prospects for meaningful change from the Biden Administration regarding cannabis policy in America: I wouldn’t hold my breath.