Joe Biden uses marijuana to win back young people – 04/01/2024 – World

Joe Biden uses marijuana to win back young people – 04/01/2024 – World
Joe Biden uses marijuana to win back young people – 04/01/2024 – World

Joe Biden decided to turn to drugs in the race against Donald Trump. Specifically, marijuana.

The president, who rose to prominence in the Democratic field during his years in the Senate as an ardent supporter of the war on drugs, is poised to usher in the biggest loosening of federal cannabis regulation in decades.

The movement is seen by the campaign as an opportunity to regain the sympathy of young people, a group essential for victory in 2020, but which has been distancing itself from Biden due to its support for Israel in the Israel-Hamas war.

An important symbolic gesture occurred in early March, when the president made history as the first to defend the loosening of federal regulation of marijuana in the traditional State of the Union address.

To applause from his party colleagues, he noted that he had instructed his administration “to review the federal classification of marijuana and expunge thousands of convictions for mere possession, because no one should be arrested simply for using it or having it on their record.”

Two decades ago, such a mention would have been unthinkable for a candidate in an election year, but the population’s opinion has changed so much that, today, the topic is far from controversial: 70% of Americans say that the use of marijuana should be legalized, according to a Gallup poll conducted in October.

The percentage is practically double that recorded in 2003 (34%) and rises to 79% in the 18 to 34 age group. Even among Republicans, the most conservative segment of the electorate, the majority is in favor (55%).

Along with abortion, it is one of the issues on which the Biden administration’s position is clearly aligned with that of the majority of the electorate, while Trump is ambiguous.

Currently, the recreational use of marijuana is legal in 24 states, and medicinal use in another 12. Some predict new plebiscites on the topic this year. Although states have the autonomy to regulate the drug, it is still banned at the federal level – changing this requires Congressional approval, something still considered unlikely.

Thus, the most important action taken by Biden in this area was to pave the way for the reclassification of cannabis from a level 1 substance (a group that includes heroin and LSD, for example) to level 3 (a category that includes painkillers such as Tylenol and steroids).

In response to a request for review from the president, the Department of Health recommended the change at the end of last year, and is now just awaiting the position of the DEA (the drug enforcement agency) to proceed – which is expected in the coming weeks , according to the American press.

Apart from the symbolic gesture, the greatest practical effect of the reclassification is the reduction of the tax burden on marijuana-related businesses. Today, the US Federal Revenue taxes the gross profit of these companies, but if the substance migrates to level 3, the rate will fall on the net profit (revenue minus expenses). The industry claims this could reduce taxes paid by 70% or more.

The expectation is that the cost reduction will lower the price of final products for the consumer, making the formal market more competitive in relation to the illegal market, which survives by selling the drug at much lower prices. Thus, the change in classification can still be touted by Biden as a strategy to combat crime.

Another expected consequence is to facilitate the purchase of medical marijuana, because it would no longer be necessary to present a medical prescription, say lawyers Matt Zorn and Shane Pennington, authors of the “On Drugs” newsletter.

The reclassification is supported by the majority of the population (58%) and even more so by those aged up to 26 (65%), according to a survey conducted in October by Lake Research Partners, a consultancy headed by Celinda Lake, who worked on the Biden campaign in 2020.

For her, young people in this election are a group of pendulum voters, that is, they can be persuaded to vote for any of the parties. Furthermore, young people stood out for being more susceptible to looking for a third way and for being the largest group that does not like either of the two candidates.

“And this group is incredibly supportive and intense on this issue [maconha]”, said Lake in an interview with the Politico website.

In 2020, Biden outperformed Trump among voters under 30 by a margin of 24 percentage points. This advantage could drop to 12 points, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey carried out at the end of February. The same survey shows that 51% of the group say they sympathize more with the Palestinians – it is the only age group in which this position is the majority.

Democrats are also concerned about how many will simply stop going to the polls. Thus, the campaign started to really give importance to marijuana at the end of last year, after the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Since then, Biden has spoken more frequently about the topic in his speeches and in December issued a second round of presidential pardons for people criminally convicted of possession and simple use of marijuana at the federal level – the first was in October 2022.

Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a White House roundtable on marijuana policy. Participating in the conversation were rapper Fat Joe, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, the government’s director of public engagement, Steve Benjamin, and some people who received federal pardons. At the time, she called the federal ban “absurd.”

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Joe Biden marijuana win young people World



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