Vice President candidate Kamala Harris said that the Biden administration would seek to enact policies that federally decriminalize cannabis possession after she was pressed about her pro-law enforcement background and history of prosecuting marijuana related crimes. In her interview with ABC news, Harris cited the Black Lives Matter Movement as a “counterforce” towards changing the conversation around cannabis-related crimes.
In May, the Biden campaign released a “Plan for Black America” that included measures set towards the decriminalization of cannabis, and therefore an expungement of prior cannabis-related convictions.
Although Biden and Harris stopped short of endorsing full federal legalization of cannabis products, the pairing has assembled a task force with members from both the Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigns.
The task force hopes to bring together both the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party to endorse the decriminalization of cannabis. Their plan includes a menu of rescheduling, medical-marijuana legalization, and expungement of convictions for cannabis users.
Despite criticism that Harris has been partial to the war on drugs in her career, her position seems to have shifted since being elected to the senate in 2017. Most notably, she sponsored the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) in 2018, which sought to federally legalize cannabis and reinvest the tax revenue to support over-policed communities.
The MORE Act, co-sponsored by notable democrats like Cory Booker (Sen, NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (Sen, MA) may be the best chance for the federal government’s redemption regarding cannabis policy. The legislation would require federal courts to no longer consider cannabis as a part of the Controlled Substances Act, thus requiring an expungement of prior convictions and a conduction of re-sentencing hearings where prior offenders could petition to have their records wiped clean.
photo courtesy Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters