Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) isn’t necessarily confident that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is going to fight for marijuana legalization if elected.
During an interview with CBS This Morning on Thursday, a reporter listed a series of policy proposals that Sanders pushed for during his recently concluded campaign—including cannabis legalization and reducing the prison population by 50 percent—and asked “which of these you think could be part of a Biden administration.”
The reporter also listed issues such as universal healthcare, free tuition for public colleges, national rent control, a wealth tax or a ban on fracking.
“These are all things you’ve campaigned on that have made you popular. Joe Biden doesn’t support any of them,” he said, “Which do you see him moving on?”
Sanders addressed several of the issues, stating that while Biden might not go as far as he would have, he believes the former vice president will take action on education reform, climate change and addressing the healthcare system.
Cannabis legalization and a reduced prison population were notably absent from Sanders’s response.
It remains to be seen whether Biden will shed his opposition to comprehensive cannabis reform ahead of the November election, though it stands to reason that it would serve him politically given how popular the issue is with U.S. voters, especially among the young ones who declined to support him over Sanders in the primary and who he needs to bring to the polls in November.
So far, the furtherest the presumptive Democratic nominee has been willing to go is to back decriminalizing possession, medical cannabis legalization, modest federal rescheduling, expunging past convictions and allowing states to set their own policies. But ending prohibition has not been a part of his platform, unlike Sanders who strongly campaigned on the issue and pledged to use executive action to legalize in all 50 states on his first day in office.
Asked whether Biden has made any promises since the senator dropped out, Sanders said “we have talked about a number of issues, and you will see those evolving, coming out I believe in the next weeks and months.”
Part of that evolution could be the product of newly formed working groups that the two announced on Monday. One of the groups—comprised of some people who backed Biden and some who supported Sanders—will focus on criminal justice reform. Legalization would presumably come up in those discussions, but what’s not clear is whether Biden would actually accept a recommendation to support the policy change if presented with it, especially given his long history of supporting and enacting punitive drug laws as a senator.