California State Senator Kamala Harris throws Her Support Behind the Cannabis Bandwagon
The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017
California Senator Kamala Harris has decided to throw her full support behind Cory Booker’s effort to have marijuana legalized. “I’m proud to formally announce that I’m signing on to the marijuana justice act, it is the smart thing to do. It is the right thing to do.” She said through a video message shared on Twitter.
The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 is sponsored by Senator Cory Booker and seeks to make marijuana legal at the federal level and remove it from the list of controlled substances. Currently, marijuana is ranked by the DEA as a schedule I drug alongside LSD, heroin, and ecstasy. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse”.
Reasons for Support Now
Senator Harris said that one of the reasons why she decided to support the Marijuana Justice Act, was that she felt the laws was not applied the same way for all people. She stressed that the law is applied disproportionately to minorities and the poor. “African-Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites but are approximately four times as likely to be arrested for possession. That’s just not fair.”
What Would the Act Do?
The Marijuana Justice Act proposes a number of solutions. The first is to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level so that it is no longer a schedule I substance. This will also be a benefit for states that have backed marijuana by removing the threat of federal crackdown and allowing growers and sellers to access financing from banks.
Decriminalization of marijuana would give growers and sellers a sigh of relief after the Trump’s administration apparent shift in policy regarding the use of marijuana for recreation and medical applications. The administration has since abandoned threats to crackdown on the recreational use of the drug in states where it is legal. “By passing this act it will prevent the United States Department of Justice from coming into our states and enforcing laws we have decided are unjust and unfair”, she said in a video message.
By decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, Sen. Harris and Sen. Booker both also seek to expunge the records of those who have been “carrying the burden of past convictions for too long”. This will allow people with those with past cannabis convictions to apply for jobs, apply for licenses, start their own business, get food stamps, public housing etc.
Most of the arrests are often for possession only. According to statistics, the number of people arrested for marijuana law violation was over 600,000 in 2016. 89% of those arrested were arrested only for possession of cannabis. More people were arrested for violating marijuana laws than for all other crimes in 2016.
Sen. Harris feels that the crackdown on marijuana has wasted billions of tax payer’s money and has diverted the attention of law enforcement away from more serious crimes. The Marijuana Justice Act also proposes reinvesting funds to communities that have been impacted by the failed drug war. States will be incentivized to address the negative impact of cannabis prohibition. These communities will get funds for job training, public facilities, and addiction treatment, amongst other community programs.