It’s Personal: Joe Biden’s refusal to legalize cannabis has nothing to do with the science – it has to do with his son, says Orlando attorney

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Joe Biden continues to double down on cannabis prohibition. Last year, Forbes reports, he fired five employees in his administration for using cannabis. This year, he approved a policy prohibiting administration employees from even investing in the cannabis space, on the basis that such investing reflects “questionable judgment and an unwillingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations” – even though, as Yahoo finance puts it, “The legal risk of investing in weed is ‘remote’ and ‘theoretical.’”

All this, of course, is squarely at odds with the attitude of the country. For instance, the “overwhelming” majority of Americans now favor legalization, powerful leaders in his own party have drafted and tabled legalization bills – which Biden won’t get behind, and even the American Bankers Association says reform is “urgently needed.”

So what’s up with Joe?

Orlando attorney and Biden fundraiser John Morgan told NBC News last week that while some of it’s because of Biden’s age, 79, it’s mostly because he’s “suffered unimaginable pain” over family members who’ve fallen prey to alcoholism and drug abuse, including his son Hunter Biden:

I talked to Joe about this personally, and he just won’t do it. Joe Biden doesn’t understand marijuana.  . . .  Joe has so much drug abuse in his own family that in his mind it’s a no-go. The older you get, the less people understand what marijuana is all about. To them, it’s all the same – marijuana, heroin, LSD.

Which is understandable, but it leaves standing one of the most pernicious laws in modern American history. Richard Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act of 1970 placed cannabis in Schedule 1 of the Act – the most dangerous drug category – along with heroin, and ahead of cocaine and opioids which were placed in Schedule 2. 

Why single out cannabis like this?

Unscrupulous political expediency. Which John Ehrlichman, who ran Domestic Affairs in the Nixon White House, fessed up in a 1994 interview with Harper’s Magazine:

You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

With the upshot that more than 50 years later someone’s still being arrested every 90 seconds for a cannabis offense, disproportionately Black.

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