Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is a front-runner in the race to become the party’s top 2020 presidential nominee. She wants Medicare for all, dislikes President Trump’s proposed border wall, and favors of a ban on assault weapons and on the sale of high-capacity magazines.
She recently announced her support for the Green New Deal in an interview with MSNBC, but her stance on a different “green” issue—the legalization of marijuana—hasn’t always been so clear. During her time as California’s Attorney General, and later in the U.S. Senate, she’s changed her mind a few times. Below, a complete guide to her evolving position on pot.
Early on, Harris approved of medical marijuana, but nothing beyond that.
In 2010, the year she was elected California attorney general, Harris opposed an initiative to legalize marijuana, which would have “allowed local governments to regulate and tax recreational marijuana two years before Colorado and Washington passed their measures,” according to The Los Angeles Times,
“Spending two decades in court rooms, Harris believes that drug selling harms communities,” her campaign manager, Brian Brokaw, told Capitol Weekly. “Harris supports the legal use of medicinal marijuana but does not support anything beyond that.”
Four years later, when the debate on the legalization of marijuana was a big issue in the 2014 race for California’s attorney general, her opponent Ron Gold said in an interview that “it needs to be legalized” recreationally.
Harris was told Gold’s position on the issue by a local news station and asked for her thoughts. She paused for four seconds, nodded her head five times, before laughing and responding with, “He’s entitled to his opinion.”
In 2015, Harris called for the decriminalization of marijuana.
At the May 2015 California Democrats Convention a year later, Harris called for an end to “the federal ban on medical marijuana,” but stopped short of talking about total legalization.
After she was elected to represent California in the U.S. Congress in 2016, Harris addressed the audience at a conference sponsored by liberal think tank Center for American Progress, making the biggest pro-marijuana statement in her political career thus far.
“Let me tell you what California needs, Jeff Sessions. We need support in dealing with transnational criminal organizations and dealing with human trafficking, not in going after grandma’s medicinal marijuana,” she said.
“While I don’t believe in legalizing all drugs, as a career prosecutor I just don’t, we need to do the smart thing, the right thing, and finally decriminalize marijuana,” she added.
Published: March 04, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News