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‘Just not a serious opinion in 2019’: Critics pan Joe Biden claim that marijuana is a gateway drug

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“Perpetuating unsubstantiated theories like this hurts people.”

Critics of former Vice President Joe Biden attacked remarks made by the Democrat Saturday in Las Vegas that appeared to endorse the long-discredited myth that marijuana is a gateway drug.

“Perpetuating unsubstantiated theories like this hurts people,” said attorney and activist Eliza Orlins.

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Biden, one of the top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, made the comments at a town hall in Las Vegas.

“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,” said Biden, who added he’d want to know more about the science before committing to full legalization of the plant.

“The gateway drug thing is just not a serious opinion in 2019,” tweeted The Atlantic‘s Adam Serwer.

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Research since at least 2002 has disproven the longstanding myth that marijuana is a gateway to other drugs.

“It is not a question anymore,” said attorney Scott Hechinger, who added that the cost of incarceration is well known.

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As The Washington Post reported, Biden’s remarks Saturday are in step with his decades-long career in Washington as a senator from Delaware:

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Throughout most of his legislative career, Biden championed tough criminal penalties for possession, including in the 1994 crime bill, which many critics have since linked to a rapid rise in mass incarceration and mass policing. Biden, who oversaw the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, was one of the bill’s key authors, so much so that he later took to calling it the “1994 Biden Crime Bill.”

Even as he’s shifted his stance on harsh penalties for nonviolent drug crimes, Biden has a long record of skepticism toward full marijuana legalization.

“Finger firmly on the pulse of 1994,” author A. R. Moxon tweeted wryly of Biden.

By contrast, Biden’s top-tier opponents in the 2020 primary Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), have advocated for legalization of marijuana at the federal level.

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“Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana,” Sanders said on October 24 upon release of his plan.

A Thursday poll from Pew Research showed that 78% of Democrats believe marijuana should be legalized. Two-thirds of all Americans support legalization.


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2020 Election

Trump ripped as a ‘traitor’ by veterans for his mask photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital

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The veteran advocacy organization Vote Vets on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump for holding a photo-op at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

After a round of golf on Saturday, Trump traveled to the hospital to be photographed by the press pool wearing a mask, which was a first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vote Vets, which says it has raised over $120 million since being founded in 2006 and made over 50 million voter contacts, released a new video on Trump's visit.

The ad says it shows "what wounded warriors see when Trump comes for a photo-op."

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2020 Election

Trump’s push to reopen schools prematurely is an assault on states’ rights that may prove deadly

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It’s hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu as the Trump regime threatens to withhold federal education funding from states that refuse to re-open their schools this fall. The contours of the “debate,” such as it is, perfectly align with the one we had a couple of months ago about re-opening businesses in the midst of a pandemic.

Then, as now, conservatives tried to frame the issue as a choice between re-opening and staying stuck in quarantine indefinitely. Those less moored to reality, including the President, insisted that proponents of quarantines were only motivated by a desire to undermine Trump’s prospects for re-election. The real divide at the time was between those of us who wanted to follow the science, build up adequate testing and contact-tracing capacity and re-open safely once the rate of infection had declined, and those, mostly on the right, who wanted to re-open prematurely either because they believed we’d achieve herd immunity if we let the outbreak run its course or because they thought Covid-19 was a “hoax” that was no more serious than the seasonal flu.

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2020 Election

How 68,000 COVID-19 survivors created a world-class patient resource group in just four months

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Diana Berrent was one of the first people in her hometown of Port Washington, New York, to get COVID-19. Back then, in early March 2020, only immunocompromised and seniors were believed to be high-risk; hence, as a 46-year-old yoga practitioner and runner, Berrent was "shocked" when she woke up with a 103-degree fever and respiratory infection — symptoms that strongly suggested she had coronavirus, which was later confirmed by a test.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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