In a contentious interview Friday that has put him in hot water, Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, defended his opposition to marijuana legalization by saying he knows “a lot of weed smokers,” and said that black voters who aren’t sure whether to support him “ain’t black.”
Biden made the comments during an interview on “The Breakfast Club,” a syndicated radio program that is popular in the black community. The host of the program, Charlamagne Tha God, set the tone at the outset, acknowledging to Biden that he has been critical of him, and questioning why the former Delaware senator has seemingly been “M.I.A.” during the coronavirus crisis.
A little more than 11 minutes into the interview, it took a strange turn, after Biden had spent minutes aggressively defending his record, when a Biden aide—off camera—interjected and tried to cut it off.
“I’m so sorry,” the aide said. “That’s our time there.”
Biden suggested that his wife, Jill Biden, needed to use the makeshift studio that’s been set up in his Delaware home as he rides out the pandemic.
The Cannabis Question
But Charlamagne continued to press the former VP, particularly on his support for the controversial 1994 Crime Bill. The interview continued for another seven minutes after the aide’s interruption, allowing the host to ask Biden about his opposition to ending the prohibition on pot.
After Biden had said it “makes no sense for people to go to jail” for marijuana, Charlamagne asked him to explain the difference between decriminalization of weed—which Biden supports—and outright legalization, which he opposes.
“Because they’re trying to find out whether or not there is any impact on the use of marijuana, not in leading you to other drugs, but what it affects. Does it affect long term development of the brain and we should wait until the studies are done,” Biden said. “I think science matters.”
“I think we’ve got decades and decades of studies from actual weed smokers though,” Charlamagne replied.
“Yeah, I do,” Biden said in response, perhaps mishearing the host’s comment. “I know a lot of weed smokers.”
Several minutes later, the aide was back, again trying to cut off the interview.
“You can’t do that to black media,” Charlamagne protested.
“I can’t do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at six o’clock,” Biden said.
Charlamagne then invited Biden back on the program when he’s in New York, saying he had more questions for him.
“You got more questions but I tell ya, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden said.
The comments have been widely criticized by many black Americans, and they were seized on by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, which cut a video using the remarks within hours of Biden’s appearance.