Democrats are pushing for cannabis legalization whether or not they have the Commander in Chief’s blessing.

With New York becoming the latest in a long list of states legalizing recreational cannabis, plans to pass a bill legalizing the plant recreationally in all states in 2021 are going full steam ahead. 

Senate Democrats have made no secret of their plans to legalize cannabis in all 50 states by the end of this year, though they may face an unexpected obstacle – President Joe Biden.

Although a member of the Democratic Party, President Biden is infamous for his harsh stance on drugs. Biden played an instrumental role in the war on drugs during his time in Congress during the ’80s and ’90s. And he’s long been opposed to cannabis legalization in any form. 

Despite these facts, Biden partially renounced his previous position on drugs during his presidential campaign and advocated for decriminalization and legalization of medical cannabis.

However, Biden is still opposed to legalizing cannabis recreationally, as confirmed in a recent statement made by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in which she stated that the President’s position on recreational legalization “had not changed.”

With legislation legalizing recreational cannabis consumption recently passed in New York, Democratic Senate leaders are determined to push forward a bill legalizing the plant. The bill’s exact details remain unclear, but we know that the proposed legislation shares several components in common with the New York legislation. 

Both legalize recreational cannabis consumption in adults over the age of 21. Both include the ultimate goal of empowering minority communities that have been disproportionately targeted for arrest for drug-related offenses and have been most negatively affected by the war on drugs.

Despite the White House’s generally intolerant attitude towards cannabis consumption, which has been illustrated by the controversial firing of five White House staffers and the disciplining of many others for admitting to past use, the Democratic Party is counting on one ally from that corner. Vice-President Kamala Harris had previously sponsored the Senate version of a comprehensive legalization bill when she served as California senator.

Democrats are counting on Harris to use her position and influence over Biden to push the bill through the Senate.

Whether Biden chooses to veto the legalization bill immediately, or perhaps through Harris’s urging pushes it through Congress, one thing remains clear. The Democratic Party’s plans to legalize recreational cannabis are moving forward- with or without the President’s support.