California Senator Kamala Harris has announced that she will be co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act alongside other prominent senators including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand. Last week, Senator Harris took to twitter saying "Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do."
What is the Marijuana Justice Act?
The bill was proposed in August of last year by Senator Cory Booker, and if passed would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. Not only would this open the door for federally legalized cannabis sales but would also allow federally funded research into the medical benefits of marijuana.
Since coming into office Senator Kamala Harris has been catapulted into the spotlight for her hardline of questioning during Senate hearings and could very well be a potential 2020 Presidential nominee. Her support of the Marijuana Justice Act will encourage other Senate and House politicians to back the bill.
Senator Cory Booker has also included several social justice funding initiatives in the Marijuana Justice Act. This primarily focuses on the disproportionate number of minority arrests and incarcerations when it comes to the enforcement of the current marijuana laws. The bill would roll back federal funding for prison construction and personnel.
Senator Harris and Booker on Enforcement
Booker notes that current laws are insufficient saying, “They don’t make our communities any safer—instead, they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
Booker and Harris share a similar stance on the defunct policies of enforcement and incarceration. "Let's be clear about private prisons: The business model is that you reap profit from incarcerating people," Harris stated. "We should not be creating incentives to house people in prison, we should be creating incentives instead to shut the revolving door into prison."
California’s democratic Senator Harris has also been adamant that the ‘war on drugs’ is complete and utter failure. "It offered taxpayers a bad return on investment. It was bad for public safety. It was bad for budgets and our economy. And it was bad for people of color and those struggling to make ends meet" says Harris.
Kamala Harris Addresses Opioid Epidemic
Senator Kamala Harris isn’t short sighted in her support of the Marijuana Justice Act. She understands that cannabis could potentially aid in the overwhelming opioid epidemic in America. She suggests, "We need a national drug policy that finally treats substance abuse not as a crime to be punished but as a disease to be treated. We need to build on reforms, instead of reviving mandatory minimums or boosting bottom lines for private prisons, and we need to fund – not defund – the office of National Drug Control Policy."
The Marijuana Justice Act will continue to garner more co-sponsors and if the midterm elections see a strong democratic resurgence it is very likely that the bill will eventually pass. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that California Senator Kamala Harris is proactively fighting to protect an industry that is so vital to our State’s economy.