Former Vice President Joe Biden came under fire for pushing a debunked myth that marijuana is a “gateway” to harder drugs, doubled down on his claim, then walked it back entirely in a matter of days.
Biden said earlier this month in Las Vegas that there has “not nearly been enough evidence” to show whether marijuana was a “gateway drug,” even though extensive research has debunked this myth.
"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."
Biden doubled down at debate:
Biden was called out on his claim at the last debate by Sen. Cory Booker.
“Issues do matter. I have a lot of respect for the vice president — he swore me into my office, he’s a hero. This week, I hear him literally say that I don’t think we should legalize marijuana — I thought you might have been high when you said it,” Booker said. “Let me tell you … marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people. The war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people.”
Biden clarified his stance on marijuana but doubled down on his claim that the science is still out on weed.
“I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone — anyone who has a record — should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out,” he said. “But I do think it makes sense, based on data, that we should study what the long-term effects are for the use of marijuana. That’s all it is.”
Biden changes his mind:
"I don't think it is a gateway drug. There's no evidence I've seen to suggest that," Biden told reporters on Tuesday, according to CBS News.
He claimed that he never said it was a gateway drug, only that “some say” that it is.
When asked about legalizing marijuana, though, Biden again reiterated that “some in the medical community” say marijuana needs to be studied more to determine if it’s a gateway drug.
In 2010, Biden told ABC News, “I still believe it’s a gateway drug” and that legalizing it would be a “mistake.”
The National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of NIH, states that "the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other 'harder' substances.”
The Institute of Medicine said in 1999, two decades before Biden continued to double down on his dangerous claim, that marijuana "typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use" but "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."