November’s election will, of course, be unlike any election before it.
Only six months away from the presidential election, campaigning has ground to an effective halt. This means that the country isn’t able to put candidates under the same microscope that they’re to which they’re otherwise subjected.
One issue that might surprise many voters is Joe Biden’s approach to cannabis. The aging Democratic former senator and vice president has long bucked his party’s general trend and opposed federally legalizing the plant. This is a curious choice, as a recent Vox report explores. It’s unclear whether Joe Biden genuinely believes that marijuana ought to remain illegal, or whether he believes that he’ll be able to score some votes from the Right by hedging his stance on cannabis. But when 92% of Americans say that at least medical cannabis should be legal at the federal level, one imagines that 8% who oppose it are unlikely to be Biden voters.
While Biden may not favor full legalization, he does support decriminalization at the federal level and an end to incarceration for federal marijuana arrests. Such a plan would not, however, federally allow for the operation of dispensaries. It would also be unlikely to end banking restrictions for cannabis businesses or the brutal bits of tax code (that’s 280e if you’re counting) that don’t allow these businesses to deduct expenses from business revenue when calculating their tax.
But the argument may be moot. Donald Trump is far more opposed to cannabis legalization than Biden and, in any case, this is largely an issue for Congress, not one that will be decided within the executive branch. With Jeff Sessions, who was particularly hostile to cannabis, out of the Justice Department, federal intervention in state-legal cannabis markets doesn’t seem to be on the table for now. In other words, when you’re picking a president in 2020, cannabis policy probably shouldn’t be your guide.