Shares of U.S.-listed cannabis producers saw a surge after Democratic vice president nominee Kamala Harris said that Biden administration would decriminalize marijuana at a federal level in the United States.

She was speaking at the debate with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday night when she also said that if they were elected, Biden would also expunge the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana related cases in the past.

Weed
A man is seeing rolling a joint with marijuana. Reuters

The effect of the news reflected on the cannabis stock tracker as MJ ETF rose 5.5 percent to mark its best session since June, Tilray Inc jumped 19.2 percent on the Nasdaq, Canopy Growth Corp, Aphria Inc and Aurora Cannabis Inc closed between 10 percent and 13 percent higher.

Federal Restrictions on Marijuana

Though marijuana has been legalized in many states in the U.S. it is still classified as substance at the federal level. Thus financial institutions including banks have refused to provide assistance to the cannabis industries. Reports claim that decriminalization of pot will result in a free capital market for investment and reduce the risk of operating cannabis business.

However, this announcement from Harris was an expected one as she has supported decriminalization of cannabis even before she was picked as VP nominee by Biden. Harris has been vouching for the end of federal restrictions on cannabis business through Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019.

Are Harris's Past Records Manipulated?

Netizes have given mixed reaction to Harris's promise. Many people slammed Harris and claimed that she had convicted thousands of people, especially black people when she was the District Attorney of San Francisco and the Attorney General in California. A twitter user said: "Harris oversaw more than 1,900 marijuana convictions in San Francisco, previously unreported records from the DA's office show. Her prosecutors convicted people on marijuana charges at a higher rate than under her predecessor."

"Did Kamala prosecute Americans for marijuana related offenses while she had marijuana in her system?" another twitter user wrote. Criticizing the democrat VP nominee on same lines, one more social media user commented: "I am the only one on this stage who locked up thousands of African-Americans for non violent marijuana charges, is what Kamala Harris should've mentioned."

But some netizens pointed out that most of those arrested for low-level possession of marijuana were not incarcerated. In fact, only a few dozen people were sent to prison for crimes related to cannabis under Harris' authority, claim reports.

A large number of people also took to social media to express happiness over the announcement. Some also defended Harris and said that apparently marijuana admissions in California went down from 817 cases to 132 cases under Kamala Harris as AG. Others commented that Harris just won them [Democrats] the election.

Harris, who was projected as an anti-cannabis supporter, spoke about her point of view about decriminalizing cannabis during the The Breakfast Club interview in 2019. She spoke in support of cannabis legalization and even mentioned that she had smoked cannabis during college.

Despite the opposition trying to project Harris as an authority who had prosecuted thousands of people for cannabis related crimes, currently, many cannabis advocates are championing her for her efforts to legalize cannabis and welcomed the promise to expunge the records of those held in cannabis crimes in the past.