On Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden stated he favored decriminalizing marijuana over fully legalizing the substance and his administration would mirror this position. Furthermore, the presidential candidate posited that the science behind the link between marijuana use and further substance abuse deserves more scrutiny. Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration released the following statement in response:
“Former Vice President Joe Biden ought to be applauded for eloquently stating why decriminalization of marijuana is a more meaningful reform than outright legalization and for standing on the side of science.
“Biden is right- more research must be done. One recent study suggests that marijuana users are almost three times more likely to abuse prescription opioids. Additionally, research also suggests that opioid deaths have increased in states that have legalized marijuana, high potency marijuana is linked to severe mental illness such as psychosis, and addiction rates are soaring among at-risk populations – especially young people.
“The fact is, the American public does not want to see the creation of another Big Tobacco, which is what legalization has led to. Earlier this year, a national Emerson College poll found 68% of Americans wanted alternatives to full legalization of marijuana- in line with what Mr. Biden described.
“Marijuana legalization has given birth to an industry that sells the super-strength marijuana vapes at the center of the ongoing, deadly vaping crisis, along with candies, gummies, and sodas that are causing a striking increase in youth addiction rates in legal states. Those who attack his position should explain how they would protect young people from the high potency THC products that will continue to flood the market, backed by billions of dollars of investment by the tobacco and liquor industries.
“By focusing on a smarter approach to marijuana reform, such as decriminalization and expungements, we can generate impactful reforms while avoiding the establishment of an addiction-for-profit industry and the second coming of Big Tobacco.”