Biden Pick For Top Justice Department Role Backpedals On Decriminalizing Drugs


Drug policy advocates were encouraged when President Joe Biden nominated a civil rights activist with a history of supporting policies like marijuana legalization and broad decriminalization of other substances to a top Justice Department role. But they were sorely disappointed this week when she backpedaled on the issue—saying she’s “not too proud to admit” the policy shift—when questioned by GOP senators at her confirmation hearing. Vanita Gupta—who has worked in the Justice Department during the Obama administration in addition to serving in top positions at the ACLU, NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—was selected by Biden to serve as assistant attorney general. The news was celebrated by advocates who felt that having someone with that background and who has promoted progressive drug policies could translate into administrative reform. But when pressed on her stance on drug decriminalization by three Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gupta said she no longer supports the policy. She did say in response to other Democratic senators, however, that she still believes racial disparities in marijuana enforcement are a national problem and there should be alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders. “Is it true that you advocate decriminalization of all drugs?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked. “No, senator, I do not,” she replied. But that was far from the only time at the hearing that Gupta would be asked about her former support for the reform. Cornyn followed up to clarify, based on a questionnaire she submitted to the committee, what her position is today on decriminalization. “Senator, I have advocated—as I believe President Biden has—for decriminalization of marijuana possession,” she said. “I believe that substance use disorder is both an enforcement problem and a public health problem, but I do not support decriminalization of drugs.” Vanity…

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Source : Biden Pick For Top Justice Department Role Backpedals On Decriminalizing Drugs

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