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Kamala Harris Pledges To Decriminalize Marijuana, Expunge Records At VP Debate

October 8, 2020 9:50 am
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The first and only 2020 vice presidential debate touched on a variety of topics, with Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Vice President Mike Pence each taking their seats 12 feet apart and separated by plexiglass.

Only one candidate discussed cannabis. 

During the televised event in Salt Lake City, Harris reiterated that a Biden-Harris administration would decriminalize the drug and expunge the records of those who have marijuana-related criminal records.

"We will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana," she said.

What It Means For Cannabis: The statement is arguably the most explicit any major-party candidate for president or vice president has taken to date on the issue on such a grand stage.

It also bodes well for any businessperson who works in the cannabis industry, according to Goodwin attorney and cannabis legal advisor Jennifer Fisher.

"At a minimum, anyone operating in the cannabis industry should be hoping for decriminalization," Fisher recently told Benzinga.

While Biden hasn't expressed support for adult-use legalization, he has put forward a plan focused on decriminalization.

Cannabis legalization typically has bipartisan support. Over two-thirds of Americans favor legalization, according to Pew Research. That support spans all political affiliations.

Individuals over the age of 65 are the fastest-growing category of cannabis consumers in the United States; Biden polls well with this demographic.

What's Next In 2020 Race: After last month's non-debate between Biden and President Donald Trump — an event riddled with interruptions from the latter and a moderator unable to steer the discussion — Wednesday night's vice presidential debate was more traditional.

Anyone hoping to hear Biden discuss cannabis with Trump at a future debate will likely be disappointed, as it's unclear whether the two will debate again. 

Trump is recovering at the White House after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The independent commission that runs the debates announced Thursday that the second presidential debate, which had been scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, will now be virtual.

Within the hour, Trump said he's "not going to do a virtual debate" and called the virutal format "a waste of time."

Screenshot via C-SPAN on YouTube.

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