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‘We will decriminalize marijuana,’ kamala harris vows in vp debate

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Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris

A Biden-Harris administration will decriminalize marijuana and expunge criminal records for those convicted of cannabis crimes, Senator and Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris said during a debate with Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday night. 

“We will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana,” Harris said.

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“Ten years ago, no state had legalized marijuana. Today, a vice presidential candidate pledged to decriminalize marijuana and expunge marijuana convictions,” the policy reform nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project said in a tweet Wednesday night. 

In August, Harris stated that a Biden administration will have a policy “that is going to be about decriminalizing marijuana.”

Harris is the main state sponsor of the The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) act, which would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill would also eliminate criminal penalties for people who manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana, and establish a framework for expunging federal cannabis convictions and for reviewing sentences in federal cannabis cases.The bill would also establish a trust fund to support programs and services for people from communities adversely affected by the Drug War and make Small Business Administration loans and services available for cannabis businesses. 

The bill was expected to come up for a vote in September, but the vote has been delayed and the bill is unexpected to make it through congress this year. 

Joe Biden’s campaign proposals include a social justice plan that would decriminalize cannabis, end incarceration for drug use, and the expungement of criminal records for prior cannabis convictions. Like the MORE act, it would also include measures to right the social harm caused by the drug war, in particular in minority communities.

In July, the Democratic National Committee released a draft version of the party’s policy platform, which includes decriminalization of marijuana, full legalization of medical marijuana, and a provision to allow states to determine their own policies regarding recreational use. 

“Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level. We will support legalization of medical marijuana, and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that are legal at the state level,” the DNC platform reads.

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