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 faculty.
Requested throughout an interview on morning radio present The Breakfast Membership about whether or not she helps legalization, Harris mentioned, “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 mentioned she had, in faculty, including, “I did inhale. It was a very long time in the past, however sure.”
“Pay attention,” she mentioned, laughing, “I feel [marijuana] offers lots of people pleasure and we’d like extra pleasure on this planet.”
Hear what #KamalaHarris thinks about legalizing marijuana 💬 pic.twitter.com/YGZlCAKUZ0
— 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 working 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 mentioned 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 present a straight reply throughout a debate after they had been requested whether or not they’d defend Prop 19 if it handed.
Prop 19 finally didn’t go, with 53.5 p.c of California voters voting no on the measure. California voters put Harris within the Lawyer Common’s workplace that yr, as nicely.
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 an area information reporter requested Harris what she considered Gold’s place, Harris mentioned, “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 house state and a number of other others across the nation legalized its use. In a guide launched final month, she known as for legalizing and regulating the drug, in addition to expunging nonviolent marijuana-related offenses “from the data 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 report. Along with her earlier feedback about weed, Harris has an advanced prosecutorial historical past with intercourse work, college 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 defend 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 beneath fireplace in current 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 mother and father.
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 prison justice system after they’re older or forestall them from changing into victims of crime is to maintain them in class after they’re younger.”
However progressive prison justice advocates say this system was dangerously misguided.
“You’re basically threatening individuals with jail when there’s underlying poverty points which are probably stopping them from having their children present as much as college on time,” Jyoti Nanda, who runs runs a youth and justice clinic at UCLA, additionally advised Vox. “It’s utilizing a criminal offense lens to handle what’s actually a public well being situation.”
Maybe essentially the most disturbing element of Harris’s report, nonetheless, 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 keeping with the Occasions report, Harris’s prosecutors doubtless may have freed George Gage, a person who was charged with sexually abusing his stepdaughter. Gage was convicted largely on the premise of his stepdaughter’s testimony, even though his stepdaughter’s mom described her youngster as a “pathological liar,” and the truth that Gage was compelled 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 although there was compelling proof of his innocence, arguing that he failed to lift his arguments in a well timed style.
Harris additionally defended Johnny Baca’s homicide conviction, although a choose discovered prosecutor introduced false testimony in the course of the trial. Harris later “fought tooth and nail,” as Ninth Circuit Choose William Fletcher put it to The Press-Enterprise, to maintain the transcript that proved the false testimony out of the courtroom’s fingers.
“It seems horrible,” Fletcher advised the paper.