Cory Booker says he thought Joe Biden was 'high' when he said marijuana shouldn't be legalized

Cory Booker and Joe BidenCory Booker and Joe BidenScreenshot via MSNBC

  • Sen. Cory Booker went after former Vice President Joe Biden during the fifth Democratic debate on Wednesday night over Biden's opposition to legalizing marijuana. 
  • "This week I hear him literally say that I don't think we should legalize marijuana - I thought you might have been high when you said it," Booker said. 
  • That line provoked big laughter and applause from the audience. 
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Sen. Cory Booker went after former Vice President Joe Biden during the fifth Democratic debate on Wednesday night over Biden's opposition to legalizing marijuana. 

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

That line provoked big laughter and applause from the audience. 

"Marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people," Booker went on, to heavy applause. "The war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people."

Biden responded by reiterating his support for decriminalizing marijuana and arguing that he has strong support from black voters. 

"I come out of the black community in terms of my support," Biden said. "They know me, they know who I am."

 

A former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker has focused heavily on criminal-justice reform throughout his political career.

Booker in 2017 introduced legislation to legalize marijuana at the federal level, highlighting the disproportionate impact that the enforcement of its prohibition has on communities of color. 

Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states, and medical marijuana is legal in 33. A strong majority of Americans (62%) also favor legalizing marijuana, according to an October 2018 survey from Pew Research Center, so this is an easy issue for Booker to campaign on.

Views on marijuana among the US public have shifted drastically over the past 15 to 20 years. In 2000, for example, just 31% of Americans said they believed marijuana should be legalized. 

John Haltiwanger contributed to this report. 

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