On August 11, former U.S. vice president Joe Biden announced that he had selected Senator Kamala Harris for his coveted selection for vice president. It would make Harris the first woman of color to be nominated for a national office role by any major political party.
Before Biden could finish his words, the internet exploded with speculation, and it seemed that everybody formulated an opinion of how Harris would handle cannabis reform, given her past roles. Leaders in the cannabis community analyzed Harris’s stance on cannabis under a microscope, with varying reactions.
Harris is the Senate sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would end prohibition by removing cannabis and cannabinoids from the Controlled Substances Act. It’s the same measure that will likely see a floor vote in the U.S. House in the upcoming weeks.
But some point to Harris’s record as a former prosecutor and the slow evolution of her views on cannabis reform. As former attorney general of California, Harris voiced opposition to California cannabis legalization measure that failed in 2010. But others believe that she deserves a second chance, as she’s made it clear that she now supports efforts to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level.
“We’re hopeful that Harris will nudge the next administration’s cannabis policy in the right direction,” Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer said in a press release.
Harris’s announcement was also applauded by leaders such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who believes she would do a “terrific” job. Others, such as Harborside Health’s Steve DeAngelo, were not so forgiving about Harris’s past as a prosecutor.
Kamala Harris will be a terrific Vice President.
I have had the privilege of working with the senator on our legislation to legalize cannabis and am ready to do everything I can to send Joe Biden and her to the White House.#BidenHarris2020 #WeHaveHerBack
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) August 11, 2020
During Harris’s 2019 presidential campaign, Harris said she was “absolutely in favor of legalizing marijuana,” harkening to her half-Jamaican heritage and citing the mass incarceration resulting from cannabis prohibition, particularly of young black men. Harris admitted she smoked pot when she was in college, and when asked if she might start smoking again, said, “I think it gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy in the world.”
Much is at stake this November, when Biden faces off President Donald Trump and American voters choose the next leader of the free world.