Candidate Joe Biden sticks to the science against legalizing pot

Today, a broad, diverse group of renowned scientists, led by the first Black United States Magistrate Judge and researchers from Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School, sent a letter to former Vice President and current presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, commending him for his unwavering commitment to a well-reasoned approach to marijuana policy.  The former vice-president respects the science on this issue.

We suggest to Joe Biden that he not consider any vice-presidential candidate who is pro-marijuana. Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren should be struck from his list because of their pro-pot stances which are at odds with his. It is the parents, and specifically parents in families affected by marijuana, who will rebel if a pro-pot vice-presidential candidate is on the ballot. The presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, recognizes the science and stands against marijuana commercialization.

The signers of the letter to Vice President Biden include members of the Science Advisory Board for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) — the largest, national, non-partisan policy group dedicated to offering science-based alternatives to marijuana commercialization. This group of doctors, scientists and a judge have vast experience in the fields of science, medicine, and addiction that drive them to promote science in the discussion on marijuana policy. 

Drug policy should be driven by science

“Science, not politics, must guide our drug policy decisions,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former three-time White House drug policy advisor. “Marijuana commercialization would only financially benefit a handful of wealthy investors and saddle disadvantaged communities in our country with further addiction.” 

(Science also does not support state-sanctioned medical marijuana policies, but the politics can’t be changed now.  Politically expedience prevents the scrapping of those programs at this time. )

The letter, sent just days after the Biden-Sanders Task force did not put marijuana legalization into the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign platform, outlines the preponderance of data supporting Vice President Biden’s contention that marijuana is a harmful substance. 

Furthermore, the researchers point out that the marijuana industry, which profits off the promotion and sale of high potency candies, concentrates, and vapes, has taken advantage of vulnerable communities, using Denver as an example — which has an average of one marijuana storefront for every 43 residents of color in minority neighborhoods. On this, the researchers conclude that “communities historically impacted by biased policing through marijuana enforcement must be built up through targeted criminal justice reform, not billionaire-backed pot shops.”

In closing, the researchers stated that they “applaud and appreciate your science-based approach that is equally cognizant of legitimate concerns regarding social justice and marijuana-policing.”

The experts on the letter

The letter is signed by the following individuals: 
Judge Arthur L. Burnett, Sr. First Black United States Magistrate Judge Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition
Hoover Adger, Jr, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Adolescent Medicine Professor of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H. Cox Family Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Founding Director, Mass General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine
Sion Kim Harris, Ph.D., C.P.H. Co-Director, Center for Adolescent Behavioral Health Research Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Jodi Gilman, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Christian Thurstone, M.D. Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, Denver
Kimber P. Richter, Ph.D., M.P.H. Professor and Director, UKanQuit KUMed Hospital Tobacco Treatment Service
Aaron Weiner, Ph.D. ABPP Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Yifrah Kaminer, M.D., M.B.A. Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine Professor of Pediatrics, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center
Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D. Institute for Emerging Health Professions Thomas Jefferson University
Christine Miller, Ph.D. Former Research Associate Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dan Riffle, former policy director of Marijuana Policy Project said that support for marijuana legalization is “one mile wide and one inch deep. ” In other words, the polls don’t indicate how shallow that support is.  Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination despite his anti-legalization stance.