Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) sparred former Vice President Joe Biden during the Democratic primary debate on Wednesday for not supporting marijuana legalization.

Booker pointed out the devastation that marijuana laws and regulations have had on minority racial and ethnic groups.

Last week at a CNN townhall, Biden said he would not push for pot legalization on a federal level, but that he does support medical marijuana. He noted that individual states should decide on legalization. Biden added that he wanted additional research into whether marijuana is a gateway drug leading to other drug use. “There’s not nearly enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said. “I want a lot more before I legalize nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it. I don’t think we should legalize marijuana. ”



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On Wednesday at the Democratic primary debate, Booker slammed Biden. “I thought you might have been high when you said it,” he said. The crowd roared with laughter and Biden was left with a quizzical expression on his face.



Biden defended his position at the debate, stating that he believes marijuana should be decriminalized. Polls show that marijuana legalization is an important to Democratic voters.

Biden also has a history of strong African-American voter support.

Booker rationalized that cannabis legalization was not merely a matter of recreational use. It is a racial issue as well, citing striking racial disparities in marijuana arrests. The Booker-Biden battle came after Monday’s decision when New Jersey introduced a resolution that would let voters decide and put marijuana legalization on the 2020 presidential election ballot.

“These are the kinds of issues that mean a lot to our community,” Booker said.

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