Refresh Checked Unchecked Menu Search Shopping bag Geolocation Person Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Info Icon CBC Icon CBC Shape CBD Icon CBD Shape CBG Icon CBG Shape THC Icon THC Shape THCV Icon THCV Shape
Advertise on Leafly

Kamala Harris Finally Endorses the Marijuana Justice Act

May 10, 2018
kamala harris cannabis legalization marijuana justice act(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
US Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Thursday announced her support for legalizing cannabis at the federal level, signing on to congressional legislation that would remove cannabis from the US Controlled Substances Act and take initial steps to address the lasting consequences of the drug war.

“Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do,” Harris tweeted this morning, including a video statement she gave to the news outlet NowThis. “Today, I’m announcing support for [Sen. Cory Booker’s] Marijuana Justice Act.”

Signing on to the bill (S.1689) comes as the first significant move Harris has made in favor of cannabis reform despite more than a year of railing against prohibition. Nearly a year ago, she publicly decried US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ drug war rhetoric nearly and pledged to defend state legalization from federal interference.

But she’s since taken few formal steps to change the system, drawing fire as one of the few senators from a legal-cannabis state to not support any of a growing number of reform bills introduced by colleagues.

Related

These Senators Are All Talk, No Action on Cannabis Legalization

In 2014, as Harris sought re-election as California attorney general, a reporter asked about her views on legalization, pointing out that her opponent at the time supported it. “He’s entitled to his opinion,” Harris replied with a laugh.

In the video announcing her endorsement of the Marijuana Justice Act, which Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced in August 2017, Harris says the legislation does “what we need to do to finally make marijuana legal at the federal level in the United States.”

The bill so far has struggled to find support in Congress. In the Senate, only Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have signed on as cosponsors.

“African Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites but are approximately four times more likely to be arrested for possession.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

In addition to removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the Marijuana Justice Act would also expunge federal convictions for simple cannabis possession, allow people behind bars for cannabis-related crimes to petition the court for resentencing, create incentives for states to address racial disparities in state-level cannabis arrests, and establish a community reinvestment fund that would aid communities most impacted by the drug war.

“The fact is that marijuana laws are not applied and enforced in the same way for all people,” Harris says in the video. “For example, African Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites but are approximately four times more likely to be arrested for possession. That’s just not fair. We need to change the system.”

“The laws we have are not fair in terms of application and in terms of enforcement,” she continues later in the clip. “We know that there are certain communities that use marijuana without any repercussion whatsoever. … But there are other communities for which it’s completely criminalized, and people end up being arrested, being prosecuted, they end up spending time in jail or prison.”

Related

Racial Disparities in NYC Cannabis Arrests Are Getting Worse

Booker, who also appears in the video, notes that “two of the last three presidents admitted to using drugs. Congresspeople, senators have admitted to using marijuana.”

Meanwhile, for young people and others in parts of the US, a felony cannabis charge “is like a lifetime sentence,” Booker says. “They can’t get food stamps, they can’t get public housing, many jobs, they can’t get loans from banks. It’s time that we not only legalize marijuana in our states but expunge the records of those who’ve been carrying that burden of past convictions of too long.”

“All because of their use of a drug,” Harris chimes in, “that should otherwise be considered legal.”

With her endorsement of the Marijuana Justice Act, Harris—who’s been talked about as a possible presidential candidate in 2020—is finally backing up that position with action.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

View Ben Adlin's articles

  • Fester

    Better late then never.

  • Jackson Shredder

    Way to go Kamala Harris. I’m glad your on board finally.

  • ALAN GANN

    MS. HARRIS WE HAVE AWOKEN AND WE KNOW YOU ARE FULL OF SH*T!! JUST ANOTHER #CriminalClinton 2.0 LYING THROUGH YOUR TEETH TRYING TO GET VOTES SO SHE CAN RUN FOR PRES IN 2020!! #ResistHerCorruptionAndGreed

    • 360dunk

      Your rant basically says nothing. If you’re going to scream at a politician, at least have the intelligence to say why. Your silly tirade claims she’s lying….lying about what? Her support for marijuana? Um, no….she actually DOES support it as the article clearly states. And if she runs for president one day, wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a world leader who wants to remove marijuana from its current Schedule I rating? Whatever your petty differences are regarding Kamala Harris, I’m sure they pale in importance compared to the big picture. Go back to sleep, you haven’t fully awoken.

    • Mike

      I bet this post sounde3d better in the original Russian. 🙂

      • ALAN GANN

        YOU FUNNY!!!! SORRY BUT I AM A DISABLED VETERAN SO YOU CAN NOT BE MORE WRONG!!!!!!! #ResistTheirCorruptionAndGreed

        • Jeff Hudson
        • Pierre Dachoute

          That Mike guy probably a russian troll.

        • What the hell does your disabled veteran status have to do with anything? Im a Drug War POW with seven years of concentration camp time. Harris has been a disappointment. She’s now come around to reason. If that chaffs your hinie that’s too bad.

          • ALAN GANN

            LISTEN WHAT THE PROBLEM IS IS THAT SHE DOES NOT CARE ONES BIT ABOUT CANNABIS OR MAKING IT LEGAL ALL SHE CARES ABOUT IS SHE WANTS TO RUN FOR PRES IN 2020 SO SHE IS SAYING WHAT SHE THINKS WILL GET HER VOTES!! IF SHE WOULD EVER WIN SHE WOULD GO RIGHT BACK TO KEEPING CANNABIS ILLEGAL!! SO THAT IS WHAT THE WHOLE THING IS ABOUT!! NOT HOW I FEEL BUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LYING CORRUPT POLITICIAN THAT IS SAYING WHATEVER SHE THINKS WILL GET HER VOTES!! KNOWING SHE WILL NEVER DO A DAMN THING TO HELP IF SHE WINS!! TIME IDIOTS LIKE YOU REALIZE THE TRUTH ABOUT LYING CORRUPT IDIOTS LIKE HER!!! #ResistHerCorruptionAndGreed https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37c2123ade03aadd0b0e9039f55130cb394fd10efac9821aa976455349c8b143.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/947e740467e6501c37ac1bbe611e1c3fe782385ff753152831dbbcce7740d607.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8944d9ca4f40f1f7f3f33b82b42a1190fee95a78de4b37a5262e34a5024310ae.jpg

          • When you find yourself capable of acting like a civilized person, let me know. Only juvenile punk’s type in all caps in discussion forms.

            I’ll be here when you grow up.

          • ALAN GANN

            WHEN YOU STOP BEING AN IDIOT AND TALKING DOWN TO ME BECAUSE I AM DISABLED AND NEED HELP TO TYPE SOMETHING YOU STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND AND I CAN CLEARLY SEE IN YOUR COMMENT I WILL STOP CALLING YOU OUT AS AN IDIOT!! NOT ALL ARE ABLE TO ALL THINGS THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE BUT IT SEEMS YOU CAN NOT OR DO NOT WISH TO UNDERSTAND THIS!! BUT I AM MORE SURE THAT THE TYPING IS NOT WHAT IS UPSETTING YOU AS IS THE CASE IN ALMOST ALL OF THE CASES IN WHICH MY TYPING IS MORE IMPORTANT TO SOMEONE THEN THE TRUTH OF THE STATEMENTS I PUT FORTH!! IN THIS CASE I AM SURE THAT IS THE CASE AND INSTEAD OF ADMITTING THAT MS.HARRIS IS THE CORRUPT CRIMINAL WE ALL KNOW SHE IS YOU NEED TO TALK DOWN TO ME ABOUT THE WAY I HAVE TO TYPE BECAUSE I HAVE CRPS/RSD AND ONLY ONE WORKING ARM WITH A LAPTOP SETUP TO HELP ME!! YOU KEEP ACTING LIKE THE GROWNUP YOU THINK YOU ARE AND KEEP TALKING DOWN TO OTHERS BECAUSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT THEN YOU OR NEED HELP DOING THINGS YOU DO NOT THAT IS YOU ACTING AND LOOKING REALLY GROWN UP!! KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT JUST LIKE MS.HARRIS IS NOT CORRUPT AND IF SHE DID WIN SHE WOULD GIVE TWO BIT ABOUT CANNABIS BECOMING LEGAL ANYTIME SOON OR AT ALL FOR THAT MATTER!! #ResistHerCorruptionAndGreed