Tag: Kamala Harris

The Strongest Presidential Cannabis Position Ever Unveiled at the VP Debate

The Mike Pence-Kamala Harris vice-presidential debate didn’t have the same fireworks as the Trump-Biden debate, but there was plenty of interruptions, dodging of questions, and an iconic fly that took over the internet. Also, the best federal cannabis policy ever proposed by a presidential ticket was mentioned. While the position doesn’t go far enough, it was big step in the right direction and was a historic development for the cannabis community, when Kamala Harris made the first mention of cannabis during the two debates that have been held thus far, as Reason reported:

“We will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana,” she said.

The position is the strongest any major-party candidate for president or vice president has taken to date on the issue in such a prominent venue.

Though former Vice President Biden has historically resisted calls to ease up on drug enforcement, he seems to have turned on the issue this election cycle, telling supporters in May 2019 that “nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” Most recently, Harris reiterated the position in a virtual town hall on September 14, assuring viewers that a Biden-Harris administration would “end incarceration for drug use alone.” Campaign aide Symone Sanders said the same in an August 29 interview on MSNBC.

While it is understandably difficult to trust virtually any politician, especially those that made their careers arresting and jailing people for cannabis, there is reason to be optimistic this time around. For starters, politicians, regardless of their past positions, want to win and a strong majority of voters now support ending federal prohibition. Further, Kamala Harris is a sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) that will ultimately legalize cannabis nationwide. Regardless of where you stand on the better presidential ticket, it is clear that the cannabis community has made serious progress on the national stage.

U.S. House Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization this Month

When I first became a cannabis law reform advocate about twenty years ago, I figured that I had two decades of fight in me. If we didn’t end prohibition in a state by 2020, I would call it quits and pick up another cause to dedicate my time to. Well, thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many unsung activists, farmers, patients, and heroes, the movement managed to beat my timeline by 8 years and we’ve gained momentum each and every day since then. Most of the action has taken place at the state level, with just a few positive federal accomplishments, but we knew that it was only a matter of time before our successes at the state level would bring about federal change.

While the law ultimately won’t pass this year, it is still a great victory for the cannabis community that a legalization bill will be voted on by the United States House of Representatives this month. Politico was the first to report about the pending vote for H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act:

The MORE Act is not the only bill that would remove cannabis from the CSA, but because it expunges records and creates funding for grants to benefit people who have been negatively impacted by criminal enforcement, this bill has garnered the most support from Democrat leadership and legalization advocates.

“As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime champion of marijuana legalization.

Does this mean cannabis will be legal? No, the odds of this bill passing in the Senate are still very slim, given the opposition of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During this week’s Republicans National Convention, speakers criticized Democrats for purportedly prioritizing marijuana sales during the pandemic over more important services like health care and religious gatherings.

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It will be extremely interesting to see how the Democratic-led House ends up voting on the MORE Act. Very likely, the vote will be largely along party lines, but two Republicans did vote to pass the bill out of the Judiciary Committee. Hopefully, plenty of politicians, on both sides of the aisle will understand that there are both liberal and conservative reasons to be on the right side of history on ending cannabis prohibition.

While the legalization bill is probably dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, passage in the House will be another big step forward for the fight to end the failed and harmful war on cannabis. Very notable, one of the Senate co-sponsors, Kamala Harris, has a decent chance of being the next vice-president of the United States. Regardless of the where you stand politically or how the next presidential election turns out, it is easy to see that the cannabis legalization movement is only going to continue growing stronger and stronger over the coming years.