The Biden Administration would pursue policies to decriminalize cannabis possession and enact some police reforms, said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) — Joe Biden’s pick for vice president — in an interview yesterday with ABC News.
During the interview, Sen. Harris was pressed about her prosecutorial and pro-law enforcement background. She said that the Black Lives Matter movement, which was once again spearheaded into the global spotlight following the May 25 police murder of George Floyd, has changed the conversation and is an important “counterforce” to the American status quo. She described plans to investigate police departments with a “history” and “pattern” of discrimination, and said the ticket will pursue a “policy that is going to be about decriminalizing marijuana.”
The Biden campaign said in May that his “Plan for Black America” included cannabis decriminalization policies and the expungement of cannabis convictions.
Meanwhile, a task force comprised of members from the Biden campaign and from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) presidential campaign sought to soothe tension between Biden and the party’s more progressive wings. That coalition ultimately embraced cannabis decriminalization reforms but — like Biden himself, who until last year said he still considered cannabis to be a gateway drug — stopped short of endorsing full legalization.
Since being elected to the Senate, Sen. Harris sponsored the 2018 MORE Act, or Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which would have federally legalized cannabis and reinvested the proceeds into supporting over-policed communities.
“Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime,” she said then. “We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives.”
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