Kamala Harris on Drugs

Democratic candidate for President; California Senator


Legalize marijuana: it gives a lot of people joy

Sen. Kamala Harris called for the legalization of marijuana at a federal level: "Half my family's from Jamaica," the California Democrat said, laughing when asked to respond to those who think she's opposed to legalizing recreational use of the drug. "Are you kidding me?"

Harris also said she smoked a joint in college. "And I inhaled," she added, joking in reference to President Bill Clinton's comments on the campaign trail in 1992 that he smoked marijuana but "didn't inhale it."

When asked if she would smoke again if the federal government were to legalize the recreational use of the drug, Harris laughed and replied: "Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy."

Harris said legalization would have to come with some caveats, emphasizing a need for research on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain and a means for regulating use of the drug while driving.

Source: Politico.com, "Legalization," on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Feb 11, 2019

Recognize the war on drugs was a failure

In 2014 Kamala Harris was asked for her opinion on legalizing recreational marijuana. Her response, which incensed the pro-pot crowd to no end, was laughter. What a difference a year makes. Now she's running for a US Senate seat. And she's changed her tune from laughter to support for an end of the federal prohibition on medical marijuana.

At the 2015 Democratic State Convention, here's what she said, "Standing up for the people means challenging the policy of mass incarceration by recognizing the war on drugs was a failure. Now is the time to end the federal ban on medical marijuana."

Harris' own pronouncements on cannabis have been evolving. Last fall she lashed out at feds' continued crackdowns in medical marijuana states, saying, "An overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine." Late last year, she also said she believed that recreational pot legalization in California was inevitable.

Source: LA Weekly coverage of 2015 California Senate race , May 20, 2015

Back on Track: re-entry instead of incarceration for drugs

In 2005, as district attorney of San Francisco, I put this strategy to the test when we created "Back on Track," a comprehensive reentry initiative for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders. The initiative focused on personal responsibility by holding offenders accountable for their behavior. In exchange, participants engaged in intensive reentry, life skills training, and education and employment opportunities to reduce the alarmingly high chance that they would resume a life of crime upon their release.

Back on Track worked. The re-offense rate for participants was 10%, compared to 54% for non-participants who had committed the same types of crime. Taxpayer savings were significant. The program cost less than $5,000 per person, compared to the $43,000 it cost to house an offender in jail for one year.

We were honored that the U.S. Department of Justice designated Back on Track as a model for law enforcement.7

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 39 , Apr 28, 2015

Focus on combating transnational gangs

As chief law enforcement officer for the State of California, Attorney General Harris has focused on combating transnational gangs, increasing the adoption of technology and data-driven policing by law enforcement, and improving public safety by reducing recidivism.
Source: 2016 Senate campaign website, KamalaHarris.org , Apr 1, 2015

Other candidates on Drugs: Kamala Harris on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
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V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Larry Hogan (D-MD)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Bill Weld (L-MA)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (L-MD)

2020 Withdrawn Candidates:
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
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Page last updated: Mar 15, 2019