Nov 21, 2019

Debate night: Booker, Biden butt heads over marijuana

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker went head-to-head Wednesday over legalizing marijuana, with the senator joking that Biden "might have been high" when he recently said he opposes federal legalization.

What they're saying: Booker called Biden out, stating: "I have a lot of respect for the vice president. He has sworn me into my office, and he's a hero. This week I heard him literally say that I don't think we should legalize marijuana. I thought you might have been high when you said it... because marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people..."

  • Biden quipped back: "I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period, and anyone who has a record should be let out of jail, their record expunged, be completely  zeroed out. 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."

Catch up quick: Biden is the sole Democrat in the 2020 field who opposes legalizing marijuana at the federal level. The former V.P. said at a town hall Saturday that there would need to be more research into marijuana's effects before he'd ever legalize it as president, in order to rule out whether it's a "gateway drug."

  • He later clarified his stance on the drug in a tweet following online backlash from his 2020 competitors.

Of note: The House Judiciary Committee passed legislation Wednesday that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, CBS reports.

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Biden: There's no proof marijuana isn't a gateway drug

Joe Biden speaks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 2. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

2020 candidate Joe Biden said Saturday there would need to be more research into marijuana's effects before he'd ever federally legalize the drug as president, in order to rule out whether it's a "gateway drug."

The big picture: Several 2020 candidates have proposed to end the war on drugs and legalize marijuana. When Biden was vice president, he supported decriminalization rather than legalization.

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Biden clarifies stance on marijuana

Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the sole top 2020 Democrat to oppose the federal legalization of marijuana, clarified his stance on the drug Monday.

Driving the news: Biden was criticized over the weekend for saying he opposes the federal legalization of marijuana because "there's not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug." He argued to leave it to the states, but he supports legalizing medical marijuana and does not believe possession of the drug should be a crime.

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House committee passes marijuana bill to federally legalize the drug

A pro-cannabis activist holds up a marijuana cigarette during a rally on Capitol Hill on April 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 24-10 Wednesday that would decriminalize marijuana at a federal level.

Go deeperArrowNov 21, 2019