Debates 2020

Cory Booker Just Crushed Joe Biden Over His Tepid Support for Marijuana Legalization

To his credit, Biden responded by calling for the decriminalization of marijuana and for releasing marijuana prisoners.


For eight years, former Vice President Joe Biden worked alongside a man who smoked pot as a teenager and then became the President of the United States.

So when Biden says, as he did last week at a town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, that he's concerned about the dangers of marijuana as a "gateway drug" to harder stuff and wants to take more time to consider whether ending the federal war on marijuana is worth it, you have to wonder what he's smoking. Biden's opinion—one that he repeated during the Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night—is that marijuana legalization should be subject to additional study before it can be enacted at the federal level.

On Wednesday night, Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) took Biden to task for being a squish on marijuana reform.

"I have a lot of respect for [Biden], he swore me into my office, he's a hero. This week I hear him literally say that I don't think we should legalize marijuana," Booker said. "I thought you might have been high when you said it."

The zinger was more than just a funny quip. It came during a segment of the debate focused on how the various Democratic candidates could best appeal to African-American voters—a demographic that figures to be critical for Biden, particularly in the early primary in South Carolina.

Booker argued that Biden's tepid stance on marijuana should be disqualifying. Calling the war on drugs "a war on black and brown people," the New Jersey senator pivoted to criticize candidates who have not experienced first hand the devastating consequences of the drug war.

"There are people in Congress right now that admit to smoking marijuana, while our kids are in jail for those drug crimes," Booker said to widespread applause from the Atlanta crowd. For Booker, it was yet another strong debate moment—though good performances in past debates have not helped him rise in the polls.

To his credit, Biden responded by calling for the decriminalization of marijuana and for releasing from people incarcerated for marijuana offenses. That's good.

But it also adds to the notion that, as Reason's Matt Welch has written, Biden is a "rusty weather vane" who can be trusted to eventually point in the direction of the prevailing political winds—but that's hardly leadership. If he were to become president, and Congress put a marijuana legalization bill on his desk, there's a good chance Biden would sign it. But would he lift a finger before then? That's the major concern.

A full two-thirds of Americans now favor legalizing weed, including 76 percent of self-identifying Democrats. More than 80 million Americans live in states with legal recreational marijuana. Earlier on Wednesday, a bill that would decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. This is all happening without Biden.

Clinging to disproven fear of marijuana as a "gateway drug" and standing with one foot behind a prohibition that has destroyed lives makes it painfully obvious that Biden is a relic from a bygone era of politics.

NEXT: Democratic Candidates Acknowledge Poor Housing Supply, but Not How Government Causes It

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24 responses to “Cory Booker Just Crushed Joe Biden Over His Tepid Support for Marijuana Legalization

  1. So…Booker topped Biden?

    1. Cory Booker is the epitome of heterosexuality and is totally heterosexually into his beautiful actress beard girlfriend.
      The only topping would be of the heterosexual variety… heterosexual.

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  3. The real Corey Booker

    May be NSFW for some of you.

    1. The chickens is comin’ home to roost, y’all.

      1. What’s a Nubian?

        1. Bitch, you nearly made me laugh.

  4. But did anyone congratulate Biden on the arrival of his new grandson?

  5. The “gateway drug hypothesis” is a ridiculous notion, that there is some magical property of pot that gives you a strong proclivity to try other substances. You wonder how intelligent people could possibly give it any credence.

    1. Association with the black market can provide opportunities to try other, more dangerous, illegal substances. Hence legalization breaks that link.

    2. “The “gateway drug hypothesis” is a ridiculous notion”
      No it isn’t. Alcohol and medication can also be gateway drugs.
      Once you discover one state of altered consciousness, you often want to try others.

      Doesn’t mean making them illegal is a solution though.

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  7. To his credit, Biden responded by calling for the decriminalization of marijuana and for releasing from people incarcerated for marijuana offenses.

    Biden is apparently going to be the first man in history to pull off prohibition without incarceration.

  8. Why, in this day and age, is it acceptable to say that black people all vote in the same way?

    1. Because democrats

    2. I thought his assertion that Obama picked him for vp because of his repertoire with blacks was hilarious

  9. The bill’ not mere decriminalization of possession (which would be ineffectual at the federal level), but complete legalization of the business, with substitution of a 5% sales tax and no licensing, plus amnesty for federal and state offenses, and abolition of consideration re immigration. Cannabis would cease to be controlled federally.

  10. “Cory Booker Just Crushed Joe Biden Over His Tepid Support for Marijuana Legalization”

    Even Reason has been promoting partial legalization for so-called users.
    Almost NEVER a mention that all these are only partial legalizations

    1. Not being thrown in a cage for smoking a plant goes pretty damn far.
      If it takes a small tax on pot in order to stop throwing people in cages for smoking plants, I’ll accept that compromise any day of the week.

      1. Also, at least in Colorado, you can just grow it yourself if you don’t want to pay taxes on it.

  11. I’m fine with a decriminalized policy so long as nobody is ever so much as fined for possession, consumption, growing, or sharing cannabis. No amount can get someone jail time or a fine. Anyone over the age of 21 can get pulled over with 50 bottles of hard liquor without a worry, and we know it to be fact that cannabis is safer than alcohol. That said, it would be foolish not to use this plant to create millions of jobs, and trillions in tax revenue (in the next ten years, it could very well be in the trillions). The cannabis industry will, sooner or later, make this world a better place by leaps and bounds.

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