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Marijuana reclassification marks Biden’s latest election-year move

PHOENIX (AP) — President Joe Biden could possibly ban TikTokbut he decides to give something back to young people which dominate the popular social media app – a looser federal control over marijuana.

Faced with the weakening of support from a left-wing electoral group which will be crucial to his re-election hopes In November, Biden made a number of election-year moves designed to particularly please younger voters. His decision to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug is just the latest, weeks after he canceled the student loans of 206,000 other borrowers. He also placed abortion rights at the heart of his arguments for re-election.

President Joe Biden heads to Marine One for his departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Washington.  Biden is heading to Delaware.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden heads to Marine One for his departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Washington. Biden is heading to Delaware. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The push to highlight issues affecting young voters comes as the Democratic president fights to maintain the coalition that sent him to the White House in 2020.

Biden, the oldest president in US history at 81, is battling voters’ perceptions that he is lost a step as he is old. Dissatisfaction with his handling of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has exploded. unrest on college campuses. Even though inflation has ebbed from its peak and the job market remains strong, polls show that many Americans still have a negative view of Biden’s handling of the economy.

A proposal from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration would recognize medical uses of cannabis and recognize that it is less likely to be abused than some of the country’s most dangerous drugs. However, this would not outright legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Biden called for a review of federal marijuana law in October 2022 and moved to forgive thousands of Americans convicted federally of simple drug possession. He also called on governors and local leaders to take similar steps to expunge marijuana-related convictions.

“The American people have made it clear, in state after state, that cannabis legalization is inevitable,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon and an early proponent of loosening the laws, said in a statement. on marijuana. “The Biden-Harris administration is listening. »

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both touted their support for marijuana law reform to mark the 4/20 cannabis holiday at 4:20 p.m. Saturday.

The comments are the latest sign that the Biden administration plans to continue its focus on this popular issue ahead of the November election.

“Sending people to prison simply for marijuana possession has disrupted too many lives and incarcerated people for behavior that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said on the social media platform these wrongs.”

Marijuana policy favors the president.

According to AP VoteCast, 63% of voters nationwide in the 2022 midterm elections said they favor legalizing recreational marijuana use nationwide, compared to 36% who said they opposites. Support for legalization was highest among adults under 45, 73% of whom were in favor. About eight in ten Democrats, about two-thirds of independents, and about half of Republicans favored it.

Biden released pardons thousands for federal marijuana possession and commuted long sentences handed down for non-violent drug offenses. In 2022, he urged governors to pardon state crimes.

President Joe Biden arrives at the Delaware Air National Guard Base, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Wilmington, Del.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden arrives at the Delaware Air National Guard Base, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Even if younger voters lean left, they are also less likely to vote. Biden cannot afford to have a reliable group of supporters stay home or vote for a third-party candidate like independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is aggressively courting young voters, or the Green Party’s Jill Stein, who ‘press on her. opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

The last two elections were decided by fewer than 100,000 votes in three states.

Despite growing public acceptance, Biden’s decision has prominent critics, including several former senior DEA officials. Opponents say the potency of today’s marijuana could cause harmful side effects, including psychosis and anxiety.

“This is a political act – it doesn’t follow the science,” said former DEA Administrator Tim Shea. “It’s election year politics. It’s like forgiving student loans. It’s aimed at a select group of people and the impact will be bad.”

“Law enforcement can’t believe this is happening,” Shea added.

During the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, then-Sen. Biden was a prominent voice in the war on drugs.

Ethan Nadelmann, who has advocated for drug legalization for decades, said Biden probably now senses that a more lenient stance on cannabis could help rally younger voters and progressive members of his party.

“This will end the hypocrisy,” Nadelmann said.

Former President Donald Trump’s views on marijuana are unclear. But as a Florida resident, he will have the chance to vote on a legalization initiative on the November ballot. In an interview with Newsmax last year, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said cannabis was causing “significant damage,” even as he acknowledged that legalizing cannabis was a “pretty popular thing” among the electors.

Federal drug policy lags behind much of the country, with 38 states having already legalized medical marijuana in addition to 24 who approved its recreational use. This has helped fuel the rapid growth of the U.S. marijuana industry, with sales estimated at $25 billion annually.

Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can reach 70% or more by allowing businesses to take tax deductions and apply for loans, industry groups say. It could also make it easier for scientists to research marijuana.


Associated Press writers Joshua Goodman in Miami and Jim Mustian in New Orleans contributed.


Follow AP coverage of the 2024 elections at

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