Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden doubled down on his opposition to legalizing marijuana on a federal level if elected president, saying there is not “enough evidence” as to “whether or not it is a gateway drug,” according to Business Insider.
Biden was speaking at a town hall in Las Vegas on Saturday when he claimed that “there’s not nearly been enough evidence” to confirm if marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, which he would need before legalizing it nationwide.
“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said.
“It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it,” he added.
Though he wouldn’t overturn federal law right away, Biden said he thinks the decision to legalize marijuana should be left up to individual states.
“States should be able to make a judgment to legalize marijuana,” he said at the town hall.
He added that he also supports medical marijuana and insisted that possession of the substance “should not be a crime.”
“It is not irrational to do more scientific investigation to determine, which we have not done significantly enough, whether or not there are any things that relate to whether it’s a gateway drug or not,” Biden said.
A 1999 Institute of Medicine report said marijuana “typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use,” but it “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse; that is, care must be taken not to attribute cause to association.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that research shows “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances,” and drug use can be affected by numerous other biological and environmental factors.