“I think I just broke news,” Sen. Kamala Harris said toward the end of her interview Monday on the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club.”
The news: Harris publicly said — for what we believe is the first time in her political career — that she has smoked marijuana.
“I have and I did inhale. It was a long time ago” — in college, she said.
It would have been news if she hadn’t smoked weed at some point. After all, Harris, 54, came of age in the 1970s and early ’80s. And c’mon, have you checked out her Spotify playlist? It reflects the heightened sensibility of someone who, shall we say, has appreciated music at deeper level.
The show’s co-host, Charlamagne ThaGod, asked Harris if she would use cannabis if it were legal throughout the country (and not just in 10 states and the District of Columbia).
Harris’ response was political. But not as political as then-candidate Bill Clinton’s line in 1992, that he had tried marijuana but hadn’t inhaled.
“I think it gives people joy, and we need a lot more joy in the world,” Harris said.
Harris wanted to be clear that she fully supports legalization.
“Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?” said Harris, whose father was born in Jamaica. Her mother was born in India.
A quick reality check here: Harris didn’t back legalizing cannabis for recreational use until last year, two years after California voters did. She also opposed a statewide ballot measure to legalize weed in 2010, when she was San Francisco’s district attorney and running to be state attorney general. Harris called that proposal “flawed public policy.”
Harris acknowledged during Monday’s show that she “has concerns” about cannabis. If it were legalized on the federal level, then “we can research the impact of weed on a developing brain,” Harris said. Plus, she said, there needs to be a reliable way to measure the impairment of drivers after they use cannabis.
Harris cities social justice reasons for supporting Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s bill last year to legalize cannabis on the federal level.
“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 an online video supporting the legislation. “That’s just not fair.”
Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do. Today, I’m announcing my support for @CoryBooker’s Marijuana Justice Act. pic.twitter.com/cOh3SjMaOW
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) May 10, 2018
Harris not only supports legalizing cannabis these days — she is organizing off it.
On Monday, Harris’ campaign circulated an email petition asking people to support legalization along with her. On the email pitch, she outlined her “pathway to legalization” for weed at the federal level.
Aside from legalizing weed, Harris wants to expunge the nonviolent offenses of people jailed on marijuana charges and create a national program to address people with addiction issues and help formerly incarcerated people to re-enter society.