With a presidential bid underway, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is pivoting on weed, saying Monday morning that she helps legalizing marijuana and smoked weed in school.
Requested throughout an interview on morning radio present The Breakfast Membership about whether or not she helps legalization, Harris stated, “Look, I joke about it, half joking — half my household’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
As is customary for presidential candidates, Harris was additionally requested on Monday whether or not she’s ever smoked weed. She stated she had, in school, including, “I did inhale. It was a very long time in the past, however sure.”
“Pay attention,” she stated, laughing, “I feel [marijuana] offers lots of people pleasure and we want extra pleasure on the planet.”
— The Breakfast Membership (@breakfastclubam) February 11, 2019
The Harris who was cracking jokes in the course of the Monday morning interview is mainly unrecognizable in contrast with the Harris of only a few years in the past.
In 2010, whereas Harris was San Fransisco district legal professional and operating for state legal professional normal, she got here out in opposition to Proposition 19. The measure would have legalized marijuana in California, and in a press release shared with The New York Occasions, Harris stated Prop 19 would encourage “driving whereas excessive” and drug use within the office.
As CBS reported on the time, each Harris and her Republican opponent, then-Los Angeles District Lawyer Steve Cooley, refused to provide a straight reply throughout a debate once they had been requested whether or not they’d defend Prop 19 if it handed.
Prop 19 finally didn’t go, with 53.5 % of California voters voting no on the measure. California voters put Harris within the Lawyer Basic’s workplace that yr, as effectively.
4 years later, Harris was up for re-election, and her Republican opponent Ron Gold made legalizing leisure marijuana a part of his platform. When a neighborhood information reporter requested Harris what she considered Gold’s place, Harris stated, “He’s entitled to his opinion,” earlier than bursting into laughter.
Harris first introduced her assist for legalizing marijuana simply final yr, lengthy after her residence state and several other others across the nation legalized its use. In a ebook launched final month, she known as for legalizing and regulating the drug, in addition to expunging nonviolent marijuana-related offenses “from the information of thousands and thousands of people that have been arrested and incarcerated to allow them to get on with their lives.”
Harris’s pivot comes amidst elevated scrutiny of her prosecutorial file. Along with her earlier feedback about weed, Harris has an advanced prosecutorial historical past with intercourse work, faculty truancy, and wrongful convictions.
Throughout her time as California’s legal professional normal, Harris fought in opposition to a motion to legalize intercourse work within the state, arguing, as LA Weekly reported in 2015, that anti-sex work legal guidelines shield individuals from human trafficking, one thing many advocates and intercourse staff have repeatedly refuted.
As ThinkProgress has beforehand reported, intercourse staff and their allies say that criminalization solely additional endangers them.
“We all know what greatest practices round addressing exploitation in labor are, and it’s not making individuals extra remoted and extra susceptible,” Kate D’Adamo of Reframe Well being and Justice advised ThinkProgress final yr.
A truancy program Harris instituted whereas she labored as San Fransisco’s district legal professional has additionally come below fireplace in latest weeks. This system started in 2008, and, in an effort to to get chronically truant children to highschool, Harris’s workplace threatened to prosecute their dad and mom.
Harris’s workplace argues that this system is definitely a progressive coverage, as a spokesperson for Harris advised Vox, “A essential solution to hold children out of the legal justice system once they’re older or forestall them from turning into victims of crime is to maintain them in class once they’re younger.”
However progressive legal justice advocates say this system was dangerously misguided.
“You’re basically threatening individuals with jail when there’s underlying poverty points which can be probably stopping them from having their children present as much as faculty on time,” Jyoti Nanda, who runs runs a youth and justice clinic at UCLA, additionally advised Vox. “It’s utilizing against the law lens to handle what’s actually a public well being concern.”
Maybe probably the most disturbing element of Harris’s file, nevertheless, hasn’t gotten as a lot consideration. As The New York Occasions outlined in January, California’s former high lawyer has a historical past of defending wrongful convictions.
In 2015, in line with the Occasions report, Harris’s prosecutors seemingly might have freed George Gage, a person who was charged with sexually abusing his stepdaughter. Gage was convicted largely on the idea of his stepdaughter’s testimony, even if his stepdaughter’s mom described her youngster as a “pathological liar,” and the truth that Gage was pressured to behave as his personal lawyer. Harris despatched the case to mediation and refused dismiss it. Gage stays in jail.
Equally, because the Occasions reported, Harris labored to maintain one other man, Daniel Larsen, in jail for possession of a hid weapon regardless that there was compelling proof of his innocence, arguing that he failed to boost his arguments in a well timed vogue.
Harris additionally defended Johnny Baca’s homicide conviction, regardless that a choose discovered prosecutor introduced false testimony in the course of the trial. Harris later “fought tooth and nail,” as Ninth Circuit Decide William Fletcher put it to The Press-Enterprise, to maintain the transcript that proved the false testimony out of the courtroom’s fingers.
“It appears horrible,” Fletcher advised the paper.