— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) May 16, 2019
Courtesy of Mother Jones:
In September 1989, Biden, then a United States senator from Delaware and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave a lecture to students at Wake Forest University about the process of nominating and confirming federal judges. Afterward, according to a clip surfaced by Mother Jones, he took questions from the students.
“My wife believes that so-called recreational drugs ought to be legalized [and controlled], as booze is. What’s your view on that?” someone asked him.
“It is a legitimate argument,” Biden replied, “one which I reject.”
He went on to say that legalizing “synthetically produced, mind-altering drugs or cocaine or heroin or marijuana” would, in fact, take the profit motive out of the drug trade and, if not eliminate, significantly reduce the violence associated with it. But doing so would be a “significant moral hurdle” for the government, he said, because unlike the case with alcohol, “you cannot be a recreational user” of “certain [other] drugs.”
“Is it proper and legitimate for a government to take an action which we know expressly will lead to the mental and physical demise of an individual?” Biden asked. “I say no.”
It should be noted that Biden is making the mistake of lumping pot in with harder drugs and then dismissing them all as dangerous and potentially fatal.
By today’s standards that seems extremely uneducated, but it was a fairly standard opinion back at that time.
I myself, being a non-drug user, may have expressed a similar opinion if I had been asked as well.
The problem with the answer is that potential voters seeing it through a more sophisticated lens provided by increased education and the passage of time, makes Biden appear painfully out of touch.
I don’t think too many people are basing their decision to support one of these 2020 candidates on whether they support marijuana legalization alone, but it could definitely add more evidence which shows Joe Biden to be out of step with his younger and more modern opponents.