Marijuana is topic of heated dispute between presidential hopefuls

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During night two of the second round of 2020 Democratic presidential debates, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard attacked California Sen. Kamala Harris for her record as a prosecutor in California.

Gabbard specifically chided Harris — who served as district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California — for incarcerating citizens for marijuana offenses and allegedly hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician.

“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said, referencing a Harris radio interview from February.

“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so,” she continued, in reference to a 2010 scandal while Harris was San Francisco’s DA.

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“She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to keep them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep a cash bail that impacts poor people in the worst type of ways,” Gabbard concluded, referencing arguments made by a Harris-led California Justice Department in a 2011 court case regarding overcrowded prisons.

Harris defended her record by stating, “I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of the state of 40 million people which became a national model for the work that needs to be done. And I am proud of that work.”

A number of Twitter users responded to the viral exchange with a storm of memes, and the Harris campaign seemed to be aware of the noise.

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Harris’ national press secretary, Ian Sams, tweeted an attack on Gabbard, and preemptively warned reporters not to cover the exchange and the fallout on Twitter.

“Reporters writing their stories with eyes on the modern-day assignment desk of Twitter, read this: ‘The Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat,'” Sams tweeted, along with an article from NBC News linking Gabbard to Russian disinformation efforts.

But the memes were funny and did not appear to be from Russian bots, so here you go.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE staff writer. Email: | Twitter:@_ericting