Harris’s statement represents the biggest promise on cannabis reform made on such a prominently visible stage in recent history.
Though some voters may feel last night’s debate between Vice President Mike President and VP candidate Kamala Harris produced little by way of substance, it provided clarity on one particular issue—marijuana.
On the national stage, in front of millions of viewers, Harris promised that a Biden-Harris administration would decriminalize cannabis if elected.
“We will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana,” she said.
That represents the biggest promise on cannabis reform made by a presidential or vice presidential candidate in such a public venue. Harris also detailed the administration’s police reform plans, which included “immediately” banning chokeholds and “national registry for policy officers who break the law.” Private prisons and cash bails would also be eliminated.
Pence did not address cannabis reform in any significant manner. He did, however, attack Harris’s record prosecuting drug-related convictions.
“When you were when you were [district attorney] in San Francisco, when you left office, African Americans were 19 times more likely to be prosecuted for minor drug offenses than whites and Hispanics,” he said. “When you were attorney general of California, you increased report the disproportionate incarceration of blacks in California. You did nothing on criminal justice reform in California.”
During his stint in Congress, Pence routinely voted against cannabis reform amendments. Back in August, he also criticized cannabis banking provisions included in the Democrats’ COVID stimulus package. If passed, the measure would protect banks working with the legal cannabis industry from federal interference.
“In the House of Representatives, I heard the other day that the bill that they passed actually mentions marijuana more than it mentions jobs,” said Pence during a FOX Business appearance. “The American people don’t want some pork barrel bill coming out of the Congress when we’ve got real needs from working families.”
Although Fresh Toast readers voted in a Facebook poll that Biden and Trump were equally likely to legalize cannabis if elected, the Trump-Pence administration have not acted friendly to marijuana reform.
A secret memo released this summer showed the administration blocked cannabis research for years and suggested restriction around marijuana studies weren’t harsh enough. Attorney General William Barr, hand-selected by Trump, inappropriately used Justice Department funds to attack the legal cannabis industry, according to a whistleblower.