Kamala Harris on Drugs
Democratic candidate for President; California Senator
HARRIS: I made a decision that, if I was going to have the ability to reform the system, I would try to do it from the inside. And so I took on the position that allowed me, without asking permission, to create one of the first in the nation initiatives that was a model and became a national model around people who were arrested for drugs and getting them jobs. I created one of the first in the nation trainings for a police officer on the issue of racial bias and the need to reform the system.
Harris also said she smoked a joint in college. "And I inhaled," she added, joking in reference to President Bill Clinton's comments on the campaign trail in 1992 that he smoked marijuana but "didn't inhale it."
When asked if she would smoke again if the federal government were to legalize the recreational use of the drug, Harris laughed and replied: "Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy."
Harris said legalization would have to come with some caveats, emphasizing a need for research on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain and a means for regulating use of the drug while driving.
This is a crisis that deserves a major federal mobilization. We need to declare a national state of emergency, which would provide more funding, right away, to help combat this disease--more resources to pay for addiction treatment, hospital services, skills training, and more.
We need to make sure that people who are addicted have access to medication-assisted-treatment (MAT)--drugs like buprenorphine which prevents withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the kind of high that heroin or OxyContin does. Many insurance companies will cover the cost of opioids while charging more than $200 a month for buprenorphine. That has to change. We have to change it.
At the 2015 Democratic State Convention, here's what she said, "Standing up for the people means challenging the policy of mass incarceration by recognizing the war on drugs was a failure. Now is the time to end the federal ban on medical marijuana."
Harris' own pronouncements on cannabis have been evolving. Last fall she lashed out at feds' continued crackdowns in medical marijuana states, saying, "An overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine." Late last year, she also said she believed that recreational pot legalization in California was inevitable.
Back on Track worked. The re-offense rate for participants was 10%, compared to 54% for non-participants who had committed the same types of crime. Taxpayer savings were significant. The program cost less than $5,000 per person, compared to the $43,000 it cost to house an offender in jail for one year.
We were honored that the U.S. Department of Justice designated Back on Track as a model for law enforcement.7
And remember that many of these offenders are small players in the underground business of drug sales and trafficking, and therefore are closely linked with gangs, violence, and gun crimes. While we need to arrest and make all offenders accountable for their crimes, we are finding ways to transform the status quo approach that results in offense-arrest-jail-offense-arrest-jail--a pattern I sometimes call "synchronized drowning"--into a new path of accountability and reintegration that builds stronger, safer communities.
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2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)
2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld (L-NY,R-MA)
External Links about Kamala Harris:
2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)