President Joe Biden marked his first 100 days within the White House this week with a pair of grandiloquent speeches filled with bold guarantees.
The sparse crowd of socially distanced lawmakers in Congress on Wednesday and the motorists at Thursday’s car rally in Georgia heard the identical message: America is again, and so is an activist authorities. Channeling Franklin Roosevelt greater than Barack Obama, Biden vowed to boost taxes, present assured jobs, and restore a social security web to a degree not seen since New Dealers have been in workplace.
As NBC News noted on Friday, that’s pleasantly shocked progressive lawmakers, a lot of whom backed Sen. Bernie Sanders over the president in final yr’s main.
But one highly regarded reform that Biden will not be pushing is any evaluate of the Controlled Substances Act, the Nixon-era federal legislation that outlaws marijuana and different medication.
So far, the Biden Administration’s signature “accomplishment” on marijuana has been to fire White House staffers for admitting they used cannabis, even in states the place the drug is authorized. Prominent Democratic senators are in flip saying they aren’t on board with legalization.
“We proceed to see management on the problem of ending our nation’s failed and racist prohibition on marijuana from nearly everybody besides the White House,” mentioned Erik Altieri, the chief director of the National Organization For the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the nation’s oldest devoted legalization foyer.
All this may increasingly have foiled Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to push legalization within the Senate earlier than it even has an opportunity to start, kicking federal reform to after the mid-term elections, or to Biden’s second time period (if there’s one).
In February, Schumer introduced that his Senate would do what no different Senate has accomplished, and introduce and move laws reforming federal marijuana coverage. Even passing banking reform, because the House has accomplished a number of occasions, most lately on the eve of 4/20, could be important, however Schumer has set the bar at outright legalization.
“Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday, 4/20, rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” mentioned Schumer, who additionally tweeted out a “Happy 420” message.
Whether that is sensible politics or bare pandering (Schumer represents New York state, the place just-legalized cannabis is predicted to be a $4.2 billion business in just some years’ time) could not matter, since with Biden in workplace, Schumer seems to be whistling in the dead of night.
When requested by the San Francisco Chronicle about Biden’s plans for drug-policy reform, Vice President Kamala Harris replied that the president is simply too busy, with coronavirus reduction, dismantling Trump-era insurance policies, and all that.
No president is just too busy to set a transparent coverage agenda that’s then amplified (or a minimum of supported) by lawmakers within the Senate. Very tellingly, Biden has not accomplished this, both. As Politico reported on 4/20, Democratic senators from New Hampshire, Montana, and elsewhere have already mentioned they received’t assist a federal legalization plan.
“I don’t support legalizing marijuana,” mentioned New Hampshire’s Sen. Jeanne Shaheen—whose state is surrounded on all sides by locations with authorized cannabis: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Canada. For justification, Shaheen reached very deep into the drug-war bag and pulled out a model of gateway idea, suggesting that authorized pot would flip extra individuals onto lethal opiates.
Other lawmakers who mentioned Schumer’s plan isn’t for them embrace Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Such open defiance signifies that Schumer is both not excellent at whipping votes, or he’s being undermined by the chief of his personal occasion within the White House.
It may very well be each, however both manner, the sensible impact is that no matter cannabis invoice he lastly introduces has no likelihood of passage.
Since 60 votes are wanted to move Senate laws, and since there are solely 50 Democrats within the Senate, Schumer wants each single Democrat in addition to some Republicans. He has neither, which implies marijuana legalization nonetheless isn’t occurring on the federal degree underneath President Joe Biden.
This has upset and irritated cannabis advocates who hoped for more, and who keep in mind all too properly being bitterly upset by Obama’s first-term drug insurance policies greater than a decade in the past, however perhaps they shouldn’t have misled themselves.
Biden by no means mentioned he’d legalize marijuana federally, despite the fact that that’s what nearly 70 % of Americans need. Yes, adult-use cannabis is now authorized in the entire nation’s greatest cities—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Biden can maintain that establishment intact with out angering law-enforcement lobbies or social conservatives of the type that Democratic strategists nonetheless imagine are essential to win votes in locations like Georgia, Texas, and South Florida. On medication, Biden got here simply as marketed.
“By failing to express any support for ending a war on marijuana that leads to the arrest of over 500,000 mostly black and brown Americans per year, Joe Biden certainly isn’t helping whip the votes in Congress or doing himself any favors with the general public,” NORML’s Altieri added. “Our elected officials in the House and Senate can and should move forward without him, but Biden’s old school mentality on marijuana isn’t making the path to civil liberties and racial justice any easier.”