Kamala Harris Says She's Fully Committed to Weed Decriminalization and Expungement
On top of federal cannabis reform, the VP candidate also said that she and Biden have to "earn" the vote of communities most damaged by the War on Drugs.
Published on October 21, 2020

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Once again, vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris wants to make it clear: A vote for the Democratic ticket she shares with Joe Biden will be a vote for dramatic federal drug policy reform. 

Harris addressed the issue head-on in an interview with Black politics and culture website The Grio.

“We have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses,” she said. “When you look at the awful War on Drugs and the disproportionate impact it had on black men and creating then criminal records that have deprived people of access to jobs and housing and basic benefits.”

In addition to drug issues, Harris also spoke of building trust and acting on behalf of the populations most decimated by the War on Drugs, in particular Black men. She said she in no way takes their votes — or anyone’s — for granted.

“I do not believe that anyone has to vote for us,” Harris stated. “I believe we have to earn their vote and [do] what it is that will earn that vote…. The issues that impact Black men impact everybody. The condition of Black men in America impacts every American as far as I’m concerned. And every issue impacts the Black man.”

Harris has been emphasizing decriminalization and expungement since she joined the Biden campaign. During a joint interview (no pun intended) with the presidential candidate in August, Harris said their administration would enact “a policy that is going to be about decriminalizing marijuana.”

It was a step down from Harris’ stated position as a presidential candidate herself in 2019, when she forthrightly proclaimed, “Let me just make this statement very clear, I believe we need to legalize marijuana… I am absolutely in favor of legalizing marijuana. We've got to do it. We have incarcerated so many, and particularly young men and young men of color, in a way that we have not for the same level of use (among) other young men.”

While Harris’ record as a prosecutor — who arrested thousands of Americans for weed — is not to be dismissed, it must also be noted that in 2018 she co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, which aimed to end federal pot prohibition and establish social equity programs in the process.  

As for Biden, he favors decriminalization over legalization. Still, he’s made clear that as president, he’ll give federal money and other support to states working to eradicate prior cannabis-related criminal records.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey stated that a Biden win would make federal legalization a top priority for Congress. The key, Markey said, is voting Trump out of the White House so that America’s collective return from fascism and madness can begin.

“Ultimately at the federal level,” Marky said, “beginning on January 20, 2021, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in, we create the programs that make it possible for businesses to gain access to the capital they need in the minority community so that they can establish their own businesses in the cannabis sector.”

The election is now less than two weeks away. You know what to do. Vote against Trump. Let us all be able to breathe — and smoke — easy again.

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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