Vice President Kamala Harris has stated that voters should elect lawmakers supporting marijuana reform to help Congress enact a “uniform approach” to president Biden’s cannabis pardons.
When questioned whether she expects the House and the Senate to follow up on the president’s executive action with comprehensive reform legislation during her appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Harris did not directly talk about the prospects of any specific cannabis reform bills or expressly advocate for any legalization of cannabis like she previously had when she was both a senator and presidential candidate.
Harris mentioned that over the years, she has tried to enact cannabis legislative reform and further pointed out that the administration is urging governors to start issuing marijuana-related pardons within states where most marijuana cases are prosecuted.
Harris mentioned that she and the majority of Americans agree that no one should have to go to prison for cannabis consumption. Harris further stated that there are ultimately many issues surrounding the issues. If Congress had to take action, we could see a uniform approach to the existing legislation and future cannabis-related legislation.
Harris concluded by stating, “Congress needs to act. We are 29 days away from the midterms. Ask who you’re voting for, where they stand on cannabis reform, and I encourage you to vote accordingly.”
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently stated that he appreciates President Biden’s steps. Booker mentioned that there is still more that Congress can do to address the war on drugs, and he is hopeful that additional marijuana reform can be passed before the mid-terms.
Senator Booker stated that he believes that cannabis legalization could still pass. Still, the expectation is that Congress will plan on advancing a “package of incremental marijuana reform proposals,” including cannabis banking and marijuana research legislation during the lame-duck sessions.
The vice president and some high-level administration officials have been willing to discuss the marijuana policies further since President Biden initially issued a pardon proclamation and campaigned for a review of the federal scheduling of marijuana.
Since taking office, Harris’ relative silence on the topic has become a point of frustration for cannabis advocates hoping that the vice president would be the ally for cannabis reform within the White House.
The last time Harris publicly discussed cannabis reform was before the cannabis pardons. Harris mentioned that the current administration was busy dealing with issues such as vaccine distributions.
Harris previously sponsored a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill during her time in the Senate and has repeatedly called for systemic policy changes throughout her presidential campaign. Harris then joined Biden’s presidential campaign.
In March 2021, it was reported that Harris adopted Biden’s scaled-back stance on cannabis reform. President Biden continues to oppose adult-use legalization. However, he has backed the decriminalization bill and is allowing states to present their marijuana policies without interference from federal agencies.
Harris accepted the vice presidential nomination in 2020. She stated that she aimed to decriminalize the use of cannabis, and expunge all cannabis marijuana-use incarcerations and convictions.
Harris co-authored an official voter guide argument in 2010, which opposed a California marijuana legalization measure. Harris also laughed in the face of a news reporter who questioned her about an issue in 2014.
That’s even though Harris’s admission in 2019 that she had smoked cannabis during her time in college. Harris stated in another interview that marijuana brings people happiness, and the world needs more satisfaction.
Concerning the new pardons, there’s a general recognition that the relief is mainly symbolic, affecting about 6,500 people who’ve committed federal marijuana possession offenses and those who violated the law in Washington, D.C. But the hope in the short-term is that governors will independently act to grant clemency in alignment with the White House.
President Biden’s cannabis reform actions have been celebrated by several cabinet officials, including the head of the ONDCP (the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy) and the Department of Labor.
The DOJ (Department of Justice) and the HHS (Health and Human Services) stated that they would move quickly to process the pardons and implement a scheduling review that would significantly affect federal marijuana policy, depending on the eventual recommendation.
A poll released on Friday found that most Americans favor Biden’s pardon proclamation, and most also want to see their governors follow suit with state-level cannabis relief.
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