The Marijuana Justice Act finally gets the support of Kamala Harris

Harris’ announcement that she will be signing on to the bill (S.1689) comes as quite a shock, considering the American lawyer and politician has done little to support cannabis reform.

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Thursday, May 10, US Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) declared her support for the Marijuana Justice Act, which could contribute to legalizing cannabis in the U.S. at the federal level.

Harris signed on to congressional legislation that would eliminate cannabis from the US Controlled Substances Act – a move that could help deal with the drug war that has plagued America for so many years.

“Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do,” Harris said on Twitter.

Her tweet about the Marijuana Justice Act was accompanied by a video statement directed at NowThis.

“Today, I’m announcing support for [Sen. Cory Booker’s] Marijuana Justice Act,” she proclaimed.

Harris has also taken this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than whites.

Harris hasn’t done much to change the system and legalize cannabis’ announcement that she will be signing on to the bill (S.1689) comes as quite a shock, considering the American lawyer and politician has done little to support cannabis reform.

In fact, Harris has been a steadfast opponent of cannabis reform for over a year.

However, almost a year ago, she publicly criticized US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ drug war speech and vowed to prevent federal interference from affecting state legalization.

Since this time, Harris has taken a back seat in trying to legalize cannabis in the U.S. Her lack of commitment to change the system has attracted a great deal of criticism, with Harris being spotlighted for her ill attempts to embrace cannabis reform bills initiated by fellow senators.

Back in 2017, she tried to gain re-election as the attorney general of California. During this time, Harris made her views on cannabis reform pretty clear, after smugly telling a reporter that her cannabis-supporting rival at the time was “entitled to his opinion.”

The latest video that we see of Harris revealing her endorsement of the Marijuana Justice Act, states that legislation is “what we need to do to finally make marijuana legal at the federal level in the United States.”

The bill was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in August of last year.

Congress has not yet supported the Marijuana Justice Act the current time, Congress has failed to show any support for the bill.

Just three Senators have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors – Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).

Should the Marijuana Justice Act gain approval, cannabis will be removed from the Controlled Substances Act.

Additionally, the bill would allow federal convicts to have simple cannabis-related convictions revoked.

People who are currently incarcerated for committing cannabis-related crimes will be granted a second chance.

They will be able to file court petitions for resentencing, develop incentives for states to deal with racial disparities in cannabis arrests that have been carried out on state-level.

Furthermore, a community reinvestment fund would be inaugurated to assist communities that have been heavily affected by the drug war.

“The fact is that marijuana laws are not applied and enforced in the same way for all people,” Harris vocalizes 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,” she continues.

Harris went on to say how existing laws are unfair in the way they are applied and enforced.

The video clip of Harris endorsing the Marijuana Justice Act also exposes certain communities that allow cannabis use without backlash and how this is a stark contrast in comparison with the people being arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes in communities where the drug has been criminalized.

Members of Congress admit to using cannabis Anthony Booker, the United States senator from New Jersey, also makes an appearance in the video.

“Two of the last three presidents admitted to using drugs. Congresspeople, senators have admitted to using marijuana,” says Booker, much to the surprise of viewers.

He describes felony cannabis charges in the U.S. as being similar to a “lifetime sentence”.

“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,” Booker says to support his statement.

“All because of their use of a drug that should otherwise be considered legal,” Harris cuts into the conversation.

Since Harris is rumored to become a potential presidential candidate in 2020, her wise decision to endorse the Marijuana Justice Act could, quite possibly, get her a few extra votes.