Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, author, and planetary scientist amongst other things, shared why he isn’t really surprised that President Joe Biden is still against cannabis legalization – “he’s the Reefer Madness generation.”
During his StarTalk show, Tyson discussed cannabis science, policy, and sports with his guest Staci Gruber, a Harvard University neuroscientist. When they reached the topic of sports, Gruber brought up how it’s essential to take a broader look at the history of prohibition to fully understand the sports ban on cannabis use amongst athletes, which led to the suspension of hopeful Olympic runner, Sha’Carri Richardson, earlier this summer. While cannabis has been used as a natural medication for thousands of years, the 1936 film “Reefer Madness” spurred an era of hysteria that led to the herb being federally banned – legislation that remains in place to this day with no sign of changing per the President’s staunch views.
As we watched Biden lead the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic using science as his guiding light, many began to question why his stance on changing cannabis’ federal legal status isn’t guided by the same principle, including deGrasse’s co-host, Chuck Nice. “[B]ecause he’s the Reefer Madness generation—that’s why, that’s why,” deGrasse responded to his co-host’s comments. Biden was born just six years after the release of “Reefer Madness,” meaning he truly did grow up in the era of hysteria that surrounded the film. But now, nearly 80 years later, some are pointing out how there is little to no excuse to consider changing your views on cannabis based on the scientific research accrued over the past century. “While many myths about cannabis have been debunked and there’s a growing scientific literature demonstrating its therapeutic value, the government—and sports associations—have stalled on enacting reform that reflects that reality,” Ganjapreneur wrote in their piece on the StarTalk episode.
While many activists and members of the Democratic party are frustrated with Biden’s unwillingness to evolve his views, there have been small hints that he’s at least thought about it on occasion. After Richardson’s Olympic suspension drew widespread criticism from, well, everyone, Biden did say that the rules surrounding cannabis use and sports should potentially be changed. But here we are, months later, and Biden seems to remain steady in his stance on cannabis – at least for now.
Tyson, who endorsed cannabis legalization back in 2017, said that he does not partake in recreational use himself, according to Gajapreneur.