Kamala Harris co-sponsors Booker bill to legalize marijuana

May 14, 2018

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) is joining another rising star in her party, Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), to co-sponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, The Hill reported on May 10.

The federal legislation—introduced by Booker on August 1—would eliminate marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act. In addition, the bill would mandate that federal courts  expunge the records of Americans who have prior marijuana convictions related to use or possession.

“It’s the right thing to do. And I know this as a former prosecutor. I know it as a senator,” Harris said in a video announcing her decision. “I just look at what we want as a country and where we need to be instead of where we’ve been.

“African-Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites, but are approximately four times more likely to be arrested for possession,” Harris said in the same Now This  exclusive posting. “The fact is, marijuana laws are not applied and enforced the same way for all people.”

Harris believes the move to decriminalize marijuana will prevent the Justice Department from enforcing laws that are “unjust and unfair.”

“The war on drugs was a war on communities,” Harris said, adding that police should be dealing with more serious drugs and crimes. “Not somebody smoking a joint.”

Harris follows New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, who announced on February 14 that she would co-sponsor the act with Booker. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) backs the bill as well.

According to the report by The Hill, so far, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the drug for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Michigan will hold a vote to legalize recreational pot this year, potentially making it the tenth state and first in the Midwest to legalize pot.

Based on findings of an April 26 poll by Quinnipiac University, American voters support percent legalizing marijuana  nationwide by a margin of  63% to 33% . Support for use of medical marijuana is 93% from coast to coast.

Fully 70% of U.S. registered voters also oppose enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

Research contact: peter.brown@quinnipiac.edu

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