After months and months of heel-dragging and mixed messages, California Sen. Kamala Harris finally did it. The first-term junior senator voiced her support for fellow Democratic colleague Cory Booker’s legislation to legalize marijuana.
Harris, who has constantly hinted that she would back the legislation, made her announcement on Twitter with a video for Now This News. With the tweet, Harris becomes the latest in a growing list of possible 2020 presidential candidate to stand up in support of rational cannabis laws.
Related Story: 5 Ways Cory Booker’s Marijuana Bill Could Change Everything
According to Harris’ video, one of the central reasons she now backs Booker’s bill is law enforcement’s unfair treatment of people of color who use marijuana. “The fact is that marijuana laws are not applied and enforced in the same way for all people,” she said. “So for example, African-Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites but are approximately four times as likely to be arrested for possession. That’s just not fair.”
Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do. Today, I’m announcing my support for @CoryBooker’s Marijuana Justice Act. pic.twitter.com/cOh3SjMaOW
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) May 10, 2018
“It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do,” she added. “And I know this as a former prosecutor, I know this as a senator, and I know it when I just look at what we want as a country and where we need to be instead of where we’ve been.”
Other Democrats who have presidential aspirations have already signed onto Booker’s plan. According to CNN:
The shift has left Democratic operatives and marijuana legalization activists across the country saying it’s difficult to imagine a debate stage in the 2020 primary race where almost all of the presidential hopefuls don’t publicly back removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The latest signal came when Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic candidate who is widely considered a top contender for the nomination in 2020, signed onto The Marijuana Justice Act [in April]. The bill, proposed by Booker, himself a 2020 contender, would effectively end the federal crackdown on marijuana by removing the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. It was also backed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another possible 2020 hopeful.
Democratic endorsement of legalization would also be a departure from the party’s 2016 position. Hillary Clinton, the party’s nominee in 2016, said the federal government should allow states to legalize marijuana and called for removing the drug from the schedule 1 list, but did not go so far as to call for its removal from the Controlled Substances Act.
Booker, who makes a cameo appearance in the video, reminds viewers that “two of the last three presidents admitted to using drugs. Congresspeople, senators have admitted to using marijuana.”
It’s time to not only legalize marijuana, but to expunge the records of those who have been carrying the burdens of past convictions for too long.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 10, 2018