Pro-Cannabis Group in South Dakota Accuses Officials of Illegal Election Interference

The group behind a 2020 medical marijuana proposal in South Dakota is accusing several officials of engaging in illegal campaigning against pro-cannabis measures in the state.

New Approach South Dakota said on Tuesday that it has filed information requests in an effort to find out whether the officials violated the state’s election laws by voicing opposition to the pot-related proposals. 

“Your tax dollars should not be used to promote any politician’s personal political agenda,” the group said in a Facebook post. “The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision who is speaking in the officer’s or employee’s personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.”

According to Dakota News Now, the group has sent “a number of information requests to government offices across the state, to officials they say may have broken state laws by speaking out against marijuana measures.” 

The officials in question include the leaders of South Dakota’s two largest cities, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, as well as the sheriff of the state’s largest county and others. 

As Dakota News Now explained, state law says that “any government official or employee of the state is permitted to speak their opinion of a candidate or ballot measure in their personal capacity,” and that the “same law states that no government agency or official can influence the election of any candidate or ballot measure in their official capacity.”

South Dakota voters approved a proposal to legalize medical cannabis treatment in 2020. That same year, a majority of voters in the state also passed Amendment A, which would have legalized recreational pot as well. 

But Amendment A was ultimately struck down by the state Supreme Court following a legal challenge led by the state’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem. 

Next week, voters there will decide on a new recreational marijuana proposal, Initiated Measure 27. 

Per Dakota News Now, New Approach South Dakota “alleges that TenHaken, Milstead, Allender and others may have broken these laws with their messaging about [the 2020 medical marijuana measure] and Amendment A in 2020, as well as about [Initiated Measure 27].” 

Among the potential infractions is a “press conference held a week ago in downtown Sioux Falls that featured TenHaken, Milstead and others, as well as a press conference the same day in Rapid City,” according to Dakota News Now.

“The decision to do this and call this out was not an easy one. We’re submitting public record requests for multiple political officials throughout the state. And the decision to do that was not easy. These are dealing with a very powerful political establishment in the state.” New Approach South Dakota deputy director Ned Horsted said, as quoted by the station. 

Polls have shown that Initiated Measure 27 is in serious danger of being rejected next week, although Noem has said that she will implement the law if it is approved by voters.

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Five States To Vote on Recreational Cannabis This Election Season

Currently, adult-use cannabis is legal in 19 states, two territories and Washington, D.C., with medical cannabis legal in 37 states, three territories and D.C. If all five states approved adult-use cannabis, nearly half the U.S. population would reside in a jurisdiction where the possession and use of cannabis is legal for adults.

And, while many of these states have a reputation for leaning more conservative, this year also shows the progress behind cannabis reform, with political parties slowly becoming less and less relevant.

As Americans collectively look ahead to midterms, let’s take a closer look at the cannabis policy these states will consider this year:

Arkansas – Issue 4

Back in 2016, Arkansas voters legalized medical cannabis, by a vote of 53.11% to 46.89%, winning in 38 of the state’s 75 counties. This November, Arkansans will vote on Arkansas Issue 4, or the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment.

What it does: The amendment would authorize the possession, personal use and consumption of cannabis by adults who are at least 21 years of age. Residents would be allowed possession and use of up to one ounce of cannabis. The amendment would also come with a 10% tax on cannabis states, requiring the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to develop rules to regulate cannabis businesses. 

The amendment that legalized medical cannabis in the state allowed for a maximum of 40 dispensaries and eight cultivators; this year’s recreational amendment would increase the maximum number of cultivation facilities to 20 and the maximum number of dispensaries to 120.

What the polls say: The last poll of Arkansas voters on this initiative was back in September, finding that voters backed the initiative by a 2-to-1 margin. The Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 835 likely Arkansas voters was conducted September 12 and found that 58.5% were for the initiative, 29% were against it and 12.5% were unsure.

The same organization ran a similar poll back in February, surveying 961 likely Arkansas voters, and still found that a majority of voters supported adult-use cannabis: 53.5% said they supported adult-use cannabis, 32% said they supported medical cannabis only, 10.5% said cannabis should be illegal and 4% said they were unsure.

Maryland – Question 4

Maryland legalized medical cannabis in 2014, facilitating sales since 2017, and the momentum for reform has grown in the state since. Medical usage is booming: As of November 2021, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission reported nearly 150,000 state-registered patients and about $600 million in sales, according to state regulators—a huge leap from 2020’s $423 million and 2019’s $255 million in revenue.

Now, voters decide whether or not to keep the cannabis train moving, with Maryland Question 4, or the Marijuana Legalization Amendment.

What it does: The amendment legalizes cannabis for adults 21 and older beginning July 2023, directing the Maryland State Legislature to pass laws for the use, distribution and taxation of cannabis.

The General Assembly also passed companion legislation that would become effective upon 4’s passing and provide additional clarity around the implementation of the amendment. House Bill 837 clarifies that, should Question 4 pass, the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis or 10 grams of cannabis concentrate would immediately be decriminalized, only subject to small administrative fines. After June 30, 2021, possessing these amounts of cannabis would be completely legal.

HB 837 also notes that residents would be allowed to cultivate up to two cannabis plants per household. All prior cannabis possession convictions that would be legal under the new provisions will also automatically be expunged, with those currently serving time allowed to apply for resentencing of possession convictions. 

What the polls say: Polling has shown consistent support for cannabis over the years among Maryland residents. The two most recent polls from Goucher College and Washington Post/The University of Maryland both took place in September. 

The Goucher poll ultimately found that 59% indicated they would vote to approve the question, with 34% against and 7% undecided. The Post poll shows even more support, with 73% in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis, with 23% against and 4% stating “no opinion.” 

Support has been consistent, with a 2019 Post-UMD poll finding that 66% of Maryland residents supported legalizing cannabis and using its tax revenue for educational programming and another Goucher poll from March 2022 finding 62% of Maryland residents supported legalizing recreational cannabis. Ultimately, many experts expect voters will likely pass the bill.

Missouri – Amendment 3

Four years following a successful public initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Missouri, and just two years after sales officially launched across the state, Missouri voters are revisiting cannabis at the ballot box with Missouri Amendment 3.

What it does: A yes vote for Amendment 3 amends the Missouri Constitution to legalize the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacture and sale of cannabis for personal use for adults over 21 years of age. The amendment would also allow people with certain cannabis-related offenses to petition for release from prison, or parole and probation, and have their records expunged. Additionally, it would enact a 6% tax on the retail price of recreational cannabis.

The petition also outlines a system that would grant 144 additional licenses for “microbusiness facilities,” comprised of six dispensaries and 12 wholesale facilities in each of Missouri’s congressional districts. The licenses will be selected through a lottery process, and licensees would be allowed to manufacture and cultivate cannabis products.

What the polls say: A number of new polls shed light on the potential outcome of the vote, though they might leave folks with more questions than definitive answers.

One mid-September poll by Remington Research Group, commissioned by Missouri Scout, found that just 43% of respondents supported Amendment 3, with 47% against and 10% unsure. Results from another poll, from Emerson College Polling and The Hill, were shared at the end of September, finding that 48% of respondents back the legalization proposal, while 35% were opposed and 17% were unsure.

Another poll, conducted in mid-September by SurveyUSA, complicates things further: It found that 62% of voters are “certain to vote yes” on Amendment 3, with 22% opposed and 16% unsure. With the available data and time ticking away until Voting Day, many have indicated that this specific vote is a toss-up.

North Dakota – Statutory Measure 2

North Dakota voters passed Measure 5, the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, back in 2016, authorizing the sale of medical cannabis. It took two years for the North Dakota Legislative Assembly to create regulations, and in 2019, Governor Doug Burgum reduced cannabis possession penalties and expanded the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis patients.

This year, voters will decide whether or not the state will go a step further, with Statutory Measure 2.

What it does: The measure would create a new chapter of the North Dakota Century Code, legalizing the production, processing and sale of cannabis and the use of “various forms of cannabis” for adults 21 years old and up. Specifically, it would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of concentrate and 500mg of THC in an infused product. Adults in the state who are of age would also be allowed to grow up to three cannabis plants, and the measure requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish rules regulating the market by October 1, 2023. 

Under the measure, the department could also license seven cultivation facilities and 18 cannabis retailers.

What the polls say: North Dakota is a fairly conservative state, where voters rejected a similar ballot measure in 2018 to legalize cannabis 59.45% to 40.55%.

One July poll from The Dickinson Press looked specifically at southwest North Dakota readers, finding that 39% supported the measure, 43% were opposed and 18% didn’t have a preference. The paper also suggested that opinions may have shifted in the area over time, as a similar 2018 poll found southwestern North Dakotans supported that year’s legislation 60% to 40%, despite the outcome.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any other publicized and recent polls on the issue. However, one key difference this year, versus 2018’s effort, that could push the conversation in another direction is money, U.S. News and Associated Press reports. Four years ago, cannabis advocates had little money for their efforts, but this year, the North Dakota legalization group has received more than $520,000.

Additionally, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which helped fund opposition to the measure in 2018, will not contribute to the fight against cannabis legalization this time around, according to the group’s president Ron Ness. 

There are several factors that could spell success for the effort, but unfortunately without more concrete polling data, it’s tough to anticipate where the vote could go.

South Dakota – Initiative Measure 27

After passing the state’s medical cannabis legalization initiative in 2020, with the state’s first licensed dispensary opening its doors July 2022, South Dakota voters will once again vote on cannabis with Initiative Measure 27. The state has a storied history with cannabis, leaving the vote this year a bit different than some of the other states posing similar questions.

What it does: A yes vote for Initiative Measure 27 supports the legalization of possession, distribution and use of cannabis for people 21 years old or older. The measure does not address licensing, taxation, local government regulations of cannabis or hemp regulations.

In 2020, along with medical cannabis, voters approved Amendment A. The amendment would have legalized recreational cannabis; authorized the State Department of Revenue to issue cannabis-related licenses for cultivation, testing, manufacturing, wholesale and retail; imposed a 15% tax on cannabis sales; authorized local governments to enact regulations for licensees in their jurisdictions; and required the state legislature to pass laws providing a program for medical cannabis and hemp.

Voters approved the measure 54% to 46% in the November 3, 2020 general election, but the Supreme Court overturned the measure February 8, 2022, with Judge Christina Klinger ruling it was unconstitutional for violating South Dakota’s single-subject rule (state law says constitutional amendments can only cover a single issue) and because it was a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment.

This time around, advocates aren’t risking invalidation, instead moving forward to strictly enforce legalization. Cannabis sales could come at a future date, if separate laws are passed by lawmakers or voters.

What the polls say: While voters just approved a similar initiative two years ago, with even more directly attached to it, recent polls show that South Dakotans are split on the issue.

South Dakota State University released results of their survey of South Dakota voters earlier this month, finding that 45% supported the measure, 47% were against and 8% were not sure. Another poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Florida, conducted in July, found that 43.8% of respondents supporting legalization of recreational cannabis, while 54.4% opposed it. 


We can theorize all we want, but of course we’ll have to collectively hang tight to witness the final outcomes in these states. While we might not see all five states enacting cannabis reform this year, we’re likely to escape election season with a little more state support for recreational cannabis.

The post Five States To Vote on Recreational Cannabis This Election Season appeared first on High Times.

Court Rules Oklahoma Won’t Vote On Legalizing Pot in November

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that voters will get to decide on a ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, but not until after this year’s general election in November. The state’s highest court rejected an appeal from the group Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws that would have required the State Election Board to include State Question 820 on the ballot for this year’s vote.

“There is no way to mandate the inclusion of SQ820 on the November 2022 general election ballot,” Justice Douglas Combs wrote in the majority opinion. “SQ820 will be voted upon by the people of Oklahoma, albeit either at the next general election following November 8, 2022, or at a special election set by the Governor or the Legislature.”

In July, Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws submitted petitions with signatures from more than 164,000 voters in favor of the legalization initiative, exceeding the number required to qualify for the ballot by more than 70,000 signatures. But the secretary of state’s office, which was using a new system to verify signatures, took far longer to certify the signatures than in previous elections, leaving too little time to include the question on this fall’s ballot, according to election officials.

Jeffrey Cartmell, counselor to the secretary of state, said the service provided by the third-party vendor to check signatures was possibly the first “true signature verification process” ever used by the state.  

“This new process differs significantly from the historical practice of merely counting the number of individuals who signed the petition without regard for their voter registration status,” Cartmell wrote in a statement to News 9.

The Supreme Court also issued a decision on legal challenges to State Question 820 on Wednesday, ruling against two petitions that sought changes in the measure’s ballot title and summary. The justices also denied requests for rehearings on two challenges to the signature gathering process that the court had already rejected.

“It is disappointing that a few people with their own political interests were able to use the process to prevent voters from voting on this in November,” campaign director Michelle Tilley said in a statement. “However, we cannot lose sight of how far we have come. This is a big deal. Now the petition phase is finished, and Oklahomans will be voting to legalize recreational marijuana here, and we can soon realize all the benefits it will bring to our state.”

State Question 820 Would Legalize Rec Weed in Oklahoma

If the proposal is eventually passed, State Question 820 would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. The ballot initiative would also task the state’s existing Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority with drafting and implementing rules to regulate the new recreational cannabis industry. The measure also includes provisions to allow those with past convictions for some marijuana offenses to petition the courts to reverse their convictions and have their criminal record expunged.

State Question 820 would set a 15% tax on sales of recreational marijuana, more than double the 7% tax rate levied on sales of medical cannabis. Taxes generated by the sale of recreational pot would be divided among the state’s General Revenue Fund, local governments that allow licensed adult-use cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdiction, the state court system, school districts, and drug treatment programs.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, State Question 820 will not be presented to the electorate until the 2024 general election, unless a special election is called by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who has expressed opposition to the proposal. But he has also said that the nation’s patchwork policy of cannabis legalization and prohibition has become problematic.

“Do I wish that the feds would pass legalized marijuana? Yes. I think that would solve a lot of issues from all these different states,” Stitt recently told The Associated Press. “But in our state, just trying to protect our state right now, I don’t think it would be good for Oklahoma.”

Arshad Lasi, CEO of Oklahoma licensed medical marijuana company The Nirvana Group, said that news of the Supreme Court’s decision “is disappointing because the industry and consumers here alike were optimistic that recreational marijuana would make it onto the ballot and be voted into law.”

“This setback may make things especially difficult for smaller businesses, who will likely continue to face challenges navigating this saturated market but growing market,” Lasi said in an email to High Times. “We are optimistic that another opportunity for adult-use marijuana may be possible via a special election in the coming months. However, if that doesn’t prevail we may not have another chance for two years.”

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Marijuana in Germany: Will Weed Finally be Legalized?

Throughout its history, Germany has held conservative laws around cannabis. But with recent election results, weed might finally be legalized. The country recently had its election in September, where the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Germany’s centre-left party, won over the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). The CDU is the nation’s centre-right party and has […]

The post Marijuana in Germany: Will Weed Finally be Legalized? appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

California Governor Hopeful Jackie McGowan On Cannabis Reform in Newsom Recall Race

California Governor Gavin Newsom faces off September 14 in a pivotal recall race as the state’s future hangs in the balance. Forty-six contenders appear on the ballot including Democratic challenger Jackie McGowan—who vows to make reforming California’s cannabis industry a priority including lowering taxes and restrictions.

McGowan is running against contenders such as conservative radio host Larry Elder and Republican Caitlyn Jenner. Living in Napa, she sees what she calls an “existential crisis” in the cannabis industry, announcing her bid last July. Voters have until today, September 7 to mail-in a request for a ballot, or until September 14 in-person. 

On day one, if elected, McGowan said she will sign a trio of executive orders: eliminating the cannabis cultivation tax, reducing the cannabis excise tax to 10 percent and declaring cannabis an agricultural product.

“Those three issues are paramount to offering the cannabis industry immediate relief so they can survive and begin to compete with the thriving illicit marketplace,” McGowan told High Times. “The legal market is hanging on by their fingernails and is absolutely in crisis and once I am elected, I can begin to offer them hope again.”

McGowan told the Sacramento Bee that in the beginning, she decided to run for governor because of California’s mismanagement of the cannabis industry, and since then she has since expanded her platform. High tax rates only embolden the black market, advocates say.

McGowan’s platform includes goals to decriminalize psilocybin, bolster eviction protection laws for tenants and take Nevada’s cue to legalize sex work.

If more than 50 percent of ballots returned in the September 14 special election are cast in favor of ousting Newsom, the recall candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will replace him. In the event that Governor Newsom is recalled, he would be the third American governor and second in California to be removed from office via a recall election. The last time that happened was when former governor Gray Davis was ousted and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.

Photo credit: Jack Simpson Photography, courtesy Jackie McGowan.

McGowan has worked as a lobbyist and cannabis policy advocate for seven years, and prior to that, she spent 18 years on Wall Street, according to her campaign website. “I’m an 18 year Wall Street veteran and have worked in cannabis policy, consulting, and lobbying for the past 7 years,” McGowan said on her website. “I have had a front-row seat to how politics work at the Capitol as well as an intimate relationship with how the legalization of cannabis has been an abject failure.”

On McGowan’s website, it reads, “Question 1 – Vote NO” and “Question 2 – Vote Jacqueline McGowan.” McGowan said she would rely on executive orders as governor, rather than relying on the Democratic supermajority-controlled Legislature.

The candidate chose not to target Governor Newsom, but she ran to be sure that the power of the seat of California governor doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. “I am not going to urge you to vote yes on Question 1 on the recall ballot,” McGowan stated on her website. “But for Question 2, California must have an option that represents its spirit, and I strongly wish to be that candidate for you. I am thrilled for the chance to serve California without being tied to corporate money or party interests.”

Under Governor Newsom’s first term as governor after winning California’s 2018 gubernatorial election with nearly 62 percent of all votes cast—he has hit problems. For instance, Governor Newsom was criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and other pressing issues, such as homelessness and wildfire management.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appeared in ads urging voters to vote no on the Governor Newsom recall. President Joe Biden, who urged Californians to vote against recalling Newsom in a tweet last month.

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Friday, October 23, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, October 23, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Montana high court tosses challenge to adult-use marijuana measure (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Pennsylvania House Votes To Protect Medical Marijuana Patients From DUI Charges (Marijuana Moment)

// Canadian cannabis sales grow to nearly CA$245 million in August (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical and adult use marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 350,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to to learn more about this very cool company!

// Colorado Governor Tells Texas Not To Legalize Marijuana So His Own State Can Get More Tourists (Marijuana Moment)

// US cannabis harvest price report 2020 (Leafly)

// Jushi Prices C$35.5 Million Equity Offering at C$3.55 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// West Virginia taps Metrc for medical cannabis seed-to-sale tracking system (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Michael Thompson, imprisoned for 25 years for selling three pounds of cannabis, to receive parole hearing in November (Growth Op)

// Oregon vineyards lose lawsuit against nearby cannabis operation (Oregon Public Broadcasting (AP))

// New Zealand seeks proposals to educate doctors on medical cannabis (Marijuana Business Daily)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Friday, September 18, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, September 18, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Vermont Bill To Legalize Marijuana Sales One Step Away From Governor’s Desk After House Vote (Marijuana Moment)

// Marijuana vape firms say one year after vaping crisis customers turning to legal suppliers over illicit market (Marijuana Business Daily)

// ‘If someone with experience can’t get this license who can?’ Illinois Governor’s team to meet with critics of marijuana licensing process (Chicago Tribune)

These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!

// Trulieve forks out $66 million for two Pennsylvania medical cannabis firms (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Barbados Is Inches Away From Decriminalizing Cannabis Possession (Merry Jane)

// Election 2020: All you need to know about cannabis legalization on the ballot (Leafly)

// 6 cannabis elections that changed the game (Leafly)

// Slim Majority Of Arizona Voters Support Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure, New Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

// German Health Insurance Has Covered Nearly $90 Million of Medical Marijuana in 2020 (Merry Jane)

// Federal Agency Tells USDA To Keep Hemp Rules Open For Comment Even Longer (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

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Joe Biden Reverses Previous Stance That Marijuana Is A ‘Gateway Drug’

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s views on cannabis appear to be evolving. During a conference call with reporters Monday, Biden reversed his previous stance that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Biden told reporters that he hasn’t seen evidence to support the gateway drug theory about cannabis. But only a week prior, during a Las Vegas town hall, Biden said the exact opposite. In front of the town hall crowd, Biden said there was not enough evidence to know whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. Now, in the face of public blowback and criticism of his remarks, Biden said he was only telling the audience what “some say” about cannabis.

Despite New Stance, Joe Biden Isn’t Revising His Cannabis Platform

Among the crowded field of Democratic candidates, Biden’s views on cannabis reform have been among the most conservative. While front-runners like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have called for nationwide adult-use legalization as part of a plan to dismantle the war on drugs, decarcerate people for drug-related offenses and expunge prior criminal records, Biden has situated his campaign’s platform at the back of the pack.

Still, Biden does support some major cannabis policy shifts. He has said he believes the federal government should decriminalize cannabis use and simple possession. And he has backed a plan to expunge criminal records of minor cannabis offenses. These policies would make a major difference for many people whose lives have been disrupted by an encounter with the justice system over weed. But they fall far short of more progressive policies like federal legalization and amnesty for those currently behind bars for marijuana-related convictions.

Despite Biden’s support for decriminalization and expungement, however, Biden’s public statements aren’t making voters confident that he’s the right person to lead a major national policy shift on cannabis. And his recent “gateway drug” comments are a case in point.

When asked why he doesn’t support broader measures like full legalization, Biden routinely resorts to the argument that there isn’t enough evidence or research to support such a move. But the candidate’s retrograde comments on cannabis reveal that he’s not very familiar with the latest evidence and research supporting legalization.

Out of date on the science and apparently out of touch with contemporary public views on cannabis, Biden has faced a week of criticism after his “gateway drug” statements at a Las Vegas town hall. Now, Biden is trying to control the damage from those statements by attributing them to an anonymous “some say.”

Can Joe Biden Overcome His Terrible Record on Drugs?

Even if Joe Biden reversed course on his gateway drug comments, his new stance isn’t going to revise the former vice president’s campaign platform. Biden still won’t support federal legalization. But his closest rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, do.

And it’s not just Biden’s current out-of-step statements about cannabis that voters should worry about. As a Senator, Biden was one of the principal architects of the policies that have fueled mass incarceration and racial disparities across the criminal legal spectrum. For decades, Biden stood sharply opposed to decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. As former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden bears the brunt of the responsibility for passing a packet of drug laws that kick-started the modern war on drugs. He once even tried to pass a bill that would have criminalized raves, called the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act.

And despite today’s growing public consensus and mounting evidence that federal legalization makes sense from a social justice perspective, an economic perspective, a criminal legal perspective, and a medical perspective, Biden still claims there isn’t enough evidence to support broad, ambitious marijuana policy.

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