Joe Biden has come a long way since his days as a vociferous drug warrior. But judging from last week’s election results, Americans have come further.
The president-elect now opposes the mandatory minimum sentences and death penalties he once championed, and he portrays himself as a reformer determined to ameliorate the mass incarceration he promoted for decades. But Biden’s approach to drug policy remains intolerant and oppressive in several important ways.
Unlike most of his opponents for the Democratic nomination, Biden opposes repealing the federal ban on marijuana. Instead, he favors decriminalizing low-level possession, a policy that was on the cutting edge in the 1970s and that won’t have much of an impact at the federal level, since the Justice Department rarely prosecutes minor marijuana cases.
In every state where marijuana was on the ballot last week, voters approved the legalization of either medical or recreational use. Most strikingly, deep-red South Dakota…