Joe Biden Changes His Mind, Says Marijuana Isn’t A ‘Gateway Drug’ After All

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Joe Biden, long an opponent of legalizing marijuana, appears to have reversed course from his stance that marijuana is a so-called “gateway drug” that leads users to harsher, more addictive and more dangerous drugs.

As National Review reports, Biden spoke to reporters with a Nevada newspaper on Monday, and the topic of marijuana, which is legal for recreational use there, came up. Reporter Megan Messerly asked the former vice president if he was wrong to suggest that cannabis might be a “gateway drug,” as he’d suggested earlier in his career, most recently at a Las Vegas town hall.

“I don’t think it is a gateway drug. There’s no evidence I’ve seen to suggest that,” Biden said.

Further, he deflected the suggestion that he’s claimed pot is a gateway drug.

“I said some say it’s a potway drug — or pot was a gateway drug.”

Biden On Pot

Compared to his challengers for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for president, Biden is, by far, the least bullish on legalizing pot. While other candidates, such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have suggested legalizing pot at the federal level, Biden is not prepared to go that far.

Rather, he believes that pot should be “decriminalized,” not legalized. In other words, pot won’t be available for purchase at dispensaries on every corner, but people caught with “small amounts” of it won’t be thrown into the criminal justice system, either.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18: Customers use a MedMen iPad menu during the grand opening of MedMen Downtown Las Vegas on July 18, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for MedMen)
Featured image credit: Bryan SteffyGetty Images for MedMen

“Anyone who has been wrongly imprisoned for consuming pot should in fact be released immediately, their record wiped completely clean,” he added.

But as for full legalization, he says that there are “some” in the medical community who believe it should be studied more before he’ll get behind full federal legalization.

Pot As A ‘Gateway Drug’

For decades, anti-marijuana advocates have advanced the idea that marijuana is a “gateway drug” — that is, that pot users will soon find that cannabis doesn’t do it for them, and they’ll move on to harder, worse drugs.

In fact, that’s an assertion that’s at the heart of a fierce debate, according to Psychology Today. Author Dr. Adi Jaffe notes that some anecdotal evidence could be construed as pointing to pot being a gateway drug, as many users do eventually wind up using “harder” drugs. However, he also notes that for decades, purchasing marijuana required breaking the law and interacting with drug dealers, putting the user into a position where he or she is among people who buy, sell, and use other drugs. In other words, Jaffe suggests, if marijuana were legal, most users would likely stick with just using pot.

“The causal link between cannabis and ‘harder’ illicit drug use is still unclear and relies on many other factors such as life experiences, parental supervision, and the social environment and laws,” he wrote.