One Cheer for Kamala's Cannabis Candor

The presidential contender is a johnny-come-lately on legalization, but she is right about the importance of fun.


How much credit should a politician get in 2019 for admitting that she smoked pot in college? Not much, especially if she only recently came around to the view that people should not be arrested for doing what she did.

But Kamala Harris did say something noteworthy when she was asked about marijuana during a radio interview on Monday. She acknowledged the importance of fun, a point that should be made more often in discussions of drug policy.

"Have you ever smoked?" Charlamagne tha God, cohost of the syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club, asked Harris, a California senator who last month announced that she is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. "I have," Harris replied. "And I inhaled."

Charlamagne was impressed by this revelation: "See, I like stuff like that. That's a real honest answer." Harris also seemed to think it was a big deal. "I just broke loose!" she exclaimed.

Please. The behavior that Harris admitted is normal for people of her generation. Harris is 54. Survey data indicate that 52 percent of Americans her age have tried marijuana; allowing for an estimated underreporting rate of 20 percent, the true figure is probably more like 62 percent.

Nor was Harris breaking ground by being honest about her cannabis consumption. Fifteen years ago, several Democratic presidential contenders, including both of the men who ended up on the 2004 ticket, readily admitted they had used marijuana.

Even the senator's reference to Bill Clinton's weaselly 1992 response to the question is old hat. "When I was a kid," Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, told an interviewer in 2006, "I inhaled—frequently. That was the point."

Congratulating Harris for her cannabis candor seems especially inappropriate given her evasive response to a question about legalization during the same interview. "They say you oppose legalizing weed," Charlamagne said. "That's not true," Harris replied. "Half of my family is from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?"

Based on that exchange, listeners might be surprised to learn that Harris did not come out in favor of legalization until a year ago and did not sign onto a bill that would repeal the federal ban until last May. By that point, two-thirds of Americans (and three-quarters of Democrats) had turned against pot prohibition.

Harris opposed a California legalization initiative in 2010, when she was San Francisco's district attorney; laughed at a question about legalization in 2014, when she was running for attorney general against a Republican who favored it; and declined, as California's attorney general, to take a position on the 2016 initiative that finally legalized recreational use in her state. She embraced legalization around the same time that John Boehner, the former Republican speaker of the House, became a cannabis industry lobbyist.

The senator's reticence on this issue is one reason (but by no means the only reason) that many progressives and criminal justice reformers are leery of her. After all, police in the United States are still arresting more than half a million people every year just for pot possession, and blacks are much more likely to be busted than whites, even though they are only slightly more likely to be cannabis consumers.

Harris did distinguish herself from other politicians with presidential aspirations in one significant way. When Charlamagne asked her whether she might use marijuana again "when it is legalized throughout the country," she replied that "it gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy."

That simple observation marks a departure from candidates like George W. Bush and Marco Rubio, who declined to discuss their own experiences with marijuana lest they set a bad example for the youth of America, and from candidates like Obama and Ted Cruz, who admitted smoking pot but portrayed it as a terrible mistake. People like marijuana because marijuana is fun, and fun is important—too important to be ignored by legislators who presume to tell us which kinds are acceptable.

© Copyright 2019 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Surely she disclosed her drug use before starting a career as an anti-drug prosecutor, right?

    1. Elvis tha Naive.

      Elvis tha Trusting.

      Elvis tha Joking!

    2. I wonder how the spreaders of and indulgers in “joy” that she incarcerated over the years feel about her cannabis candor.

      1. It was definitely not fun for those defendants that she stacked charges on and other wise pressured to take plea bargains.

      2. You don’t think there’s even just a couple of *alleged* spreaders and indulgers in there? That, I think, would be the acme of hypocrisy.

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  3. I see no reason to believe a word out of her mouth.

  4. And meanwhile, the War on Cops continues unabated. And you people want more criminals hopped up on the marijuanas roaming the streets, out of their minds and eating people’s faces off?

    1. So , faces taste like Doritoes?

    2. Circular firing squad – that’s against regulations.

      Good shoot?

    3. Based on the limited information in that article (shot out frontage) it sounds like there were cops inside the front of the store when the suspect came out from the back, and then cops outside the store fired into the store.

      Either that or there were cops inside the store directing fire out towards the street.

      All due to a suspect who never fired a shot.

    4. Had to look it up, but there was an article from a couple of years ago explaining why police officers (especially in New York) are such terrible shots.

  5. I don’t mind Harris smoking whatever she wants, but I don’t want another pothead as President. Wasn’t impressed with Clinton, Bush or Obama.

    1. Trump is an adderall tweeker? I’ve heard it said.

  6. People like marijuana because marijuana is fun, and fun is important

    Fun is important? You sound like some demented kid’s show host.

    If you want to continue to give the impression that you can’t tell the difference between Libertine and Libertarian, please keep writing sentences like this.

    Supporting peoples’ right to do stupid things doesn’t mean you have to endorse stupid things.

    There are a whole lot of things that are both fun and bad for you.

    1. Going to the beach is fun…and bad for you. You agin’ it?
      Sex is fun and often bad for you. You agin’ it?
      Eating pizza is fun…and usually bad for you. You agin’ it?

      F off, slaver!!

      1. Speaking of sand, sex, and fun, Ottoman authorities butted into people’s private lives in the name of stopping syphillis. If you trust a doctor more than a lover, you are getting naked with the wrong person every Friday night. If you think the government should decide which mind altering drugs should be legal, stick to drinking in cop bars.

      2. Going to the beach is fun…and bad for you. No, that’s simply wrong.
        Sex is fun and often bad for you. (Often? Why the caveat?) No, that is simply wrong.
        Eating pizza is fun…and usually bad for you. (Again with the caveats – you cannot even make one strong argument) No, that is simply wrong.

        Sure, it is possible that most anything – done improperly or excessively – can be dangerous. But to attempt to equate the things you chose with ingesting mind altering substances – for the purpose of altering one’s mind – is absurd strawmanning.

        1. Replying to random Reason comments is fun but bad for you. Waste of time, no accomplishment.

        2. Whats wrong with altering one’s mind?

          Ever have a drink, coffee, candy bar, hot wings? All are mind altering!

        1. Big of you to admit it.

    2. In the cost/benefit analysis of the War on Drug Users, the enjoyment drug users derive from the use of drugs is never mentioned. If I enjoy sticking a hundred bucks up my nose of a Friday night, obviously I value the experience more than I value the hundred bucks so my coke habit isn’t “costing” me anything. And these people who talk about how much drug use “costs” society in the diminished value of the drug users’ labor because they’re not living up to their full potential can fuck right the hell off with their implicit assumption that the individual exists to serve the collective.

    3. Girls just wanna have fun, don’tcha know?

  7. One Cheer for Kamala’s Cannabis Candor
    The presidential contender is a johnny-come-lately on legalization, but she is right about the importance of fun

    I bet she had fun sending all those drug ‘offenders’ away to prison. It was not fun for them.

    Why Reason continues to cherry pick one lie from these tyrants to justify drug use, I will never know.

    The Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional. Prohibitionists knew this which is why they sought the 18th Amendment. You dont need a good reason to use drugs. Adults get to put whatever they want into their bodies.

    1. I blame the Commerce Clause.

      Clarence Thomas in his opinion on Gonzalez v Reich

      Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything ? and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

      1. Raich* whoops.

        1. 3rd Raich?

          1. Apparently that’s what I was going for haha.

      2. Its not really the Commerce Clause itself but the judges and justices, as you mention.

        The Commerce Clause serves the purpose of the federal government settling fights between states, which historically happened.

        A tiny and limited government would also have few resources to heavily regulate all interstate commerce. The government would have to be more selective about what it spends it resources on.

        1. Correct, it’s the way overly expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause. As Thomas says, with this expansive interpretation, the government’s powers are no longer enumerated or limited.

          1. From a Libertarian perspective, Fillburn is probably the worst SC holding ever.

            1. Fillburn is probably the worst SC holding ever.

              So much competition in that cesspit: Slaughter- House, Kelo, Dred Scott, Korematsu…

      3. It’s the damn truth too. They needed a Amendment for their fascist war on alcohol so what gives. Fucking bullshit. Crazy world. We’re lucky it’s as nice as it is.

  8. She willfully destroyed lives for her own personal benefit. She opposed mercy.

    No, thanks.

  9. I happen to enjoy tobacco/nicotine much more than pot (I don’t like the feeling of being high-sorry!). So according to Ms Harris, I should be permitted to have my fun too with my drug of choice, right?

  10. she’s a narc, fuck her

    1. +1000

  11. For the love of Pete …. Libertarianism has spiraled down to a fetish of legalizing pot. The right to spend your life stoned and stupid.

    1. Lucky for you Reason staff are mostly not Libertarians.

      They are mostly Anarchists and Lefties who are all about buttsex, ‘mesicans, and drugs for fun.

      1. This might be quite close to the truth.

    2. I’ve smoked practically every day for the past 34 years and I have three graduate degrees. Good ones. So, “stupid?”

      1. Couldn’t find a job with the first two?

      2. There’s a difference between thinking something should be legal, and lionizing it as if it is some great thing unto itself.

      3. ” I have three graduate degrees.”

        Well good on ya. But, have you ever considered trying to do something, you know, productive?

        Not that that is in any way required, liberty being doing whatever you find rewarding. It’s just that, well, you aren’t exactly anything more than a rather unique anecdote.

      4. Try getting a government job!

      5. Weren’t you professor Jennings in Animal House?

    3. It’s a fetish for legalizing freedom. What’s so hard to understand?

      1. “legalizing freedom”

        I know you don’t get the concept of liberty. I know this because that is an oxymoron.

        More to the point the current trend with MJ laws is the antithesis of freedom. It’s all permission. Which is simultaneously regulation and expansion of the state combined with the underlying presumption that these things ever belonged within the state’s purview.

        So indeed – FUCK OFF SLAVER.

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          1. Sorry you cannot understand English.

            Freedom is what you have in the absence of law.

            ‘Legalizing freedom’ is like ‘fucking for chastity.’

            1. You are approaching the density of lead. 99% chance that if you stopped acting like a dick and twisting my meaning with your legalisms we’d be in agreement. But for now, enjoy the taste of my balls.

              1. He’s trying to reach his own; yours are in the way.

              2. Doesn’t really matter that you steadfastly refused to recognize the fundamental truth.
                In this particular instance someone granting you limited, heavily caveated permission is not even ‘legalizing freedom.’ It is recodifying the terms of your subjection.

    4. “Libertarianism has spiraled down to a fetish of legalizing pot. The right to spend your life stoned and stupid.”

      Are you stoned and stupid? Or just stupid?

    5. “Libertarianism has spiraled down to a fetish of legalizing pot.”

      Kinda always has been, notable exceptions aside. And the weed heads (bless their stoned little bums) aren’t often that much in favor of limited government. Quite the opposite in fact.

      Libertarianism is a big tent, which sounds good until you realize it makes the concept too elastic, too nebulous and mostly useless, like art being in the eye of the beholder. So all there is to get behind are the narrow, philosophically disconnected issues like weed, cops being naughty, and open borders. Try to herd all those cats behind the idea of a small state robbed of its power to truly control individuals and that big tent empties out pretty quickly.

      1. And what’s why there have always been left-libertarians and right-libertarians.

        The problem is these dirty Boomer and Gen-X left-libertarians have taken over the movement from all the sane right-libertarians of old. It’s not that weed shouldn’t be legal… It’s that it’s really nowhere near the most important problems we have.

        And yeah, the ones who seem to obsessive over weed, somehow always seem to care a lot less about all of the more important things. But such is life. Right wing thinking seems to be making quite the come back lately anyway, so we’ll see.

  12. listeners might be surprised to learn that Harris did not come out in favor of legalization until a year ago

    Nope. Not a bit.

    1. Kinda surprised it’s been that long.

    2. The listeners don’t know anything except that she’s a black Democrat.

  13. When Charlamagne asked her whether she might use marijuana again “when it is legalized throughout the country,” she replied that “it gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy.”

    To which Charlamagne replied, “Just answer my fuckin’ question”, right? RIGHT?!

  14. Here’s an example of media bias:

    Why do pictures of Lefties always show them smiling or laughing or otherwise look flattering as they try and send you to gulags or take all your money?

    Trump has only a few ‘go-to’ photos that the media uses. The guys has been in the public eye for decades and the media cannot come up with any more flattering pictures? Meanwhile Trump tries to reduce government and do other Libertarian-ish things.

    1. Remember when Time darkened OJ Simpson’ s face on the cover?

    2. When they do stories about her prosecutor past they use super cereal pics of her. It’s all in the mood they want to set.

    3. What are you smoking? I saw absolutely terrible pictures and good pictures of all the major candidates in the last Presidential election and in my state’s elections. Just depends on who’s reporting.

  15. Is Charlamagne tha God related to da Ali G?

  16. My dad has always smoked pot, finally slowed down on it the last few years… But even he has said many times over the years “Smoking pot doesn’t make you a bad person… But I just don’t know if I want the guy with the nuclear launch codes being some dude who thinks it’s “cool” to smoke dope. Definitely not someone who is still actively getting high all the time.”

    I kind of have to agree.

    Obviously pot should be legal. And it doesn’t make somebody literally Hitler for getting stoned once in awhile.

    But this whole idea that it’s “cool” or a good thing to have people running the world that get fucked up all the time, or did in the past, doesn’t really jive with me.

    IMO weed is basically the same as booze. I drink. I get tossed sometimes. I don’t really ever smoke weed. But they’re comparable IMO.

    Winston Churchill was a fucking alcoholic. Not great right? But he was a man with skills that were needed at the time. So fair enough that he was good overall. But would Churchill have not perhaps been a “better” man in theory had he NOT been a raging drunk?

    I’m going to have to go with yes.

    I think in libertarian and leftist circles lately “This shouldn’t be illegal, but most people should probably not do it often if at all.” has been replaced with a worship of weed and other drugs… And that just doesn’t make sense. Worshiping being a drunk doesn’t make sense to me, a drinker, so why does it make sense for smoking dope?

    1. Works on the “con” side too. Friend of mine got wrapped up yrs. ago defending the legal rights of people to refuse vaccinations, so he had to find bad things about vax to help the argument. Now he’s anti-vax.

      Not enough people are libertarians, so it’s not enough just to argue for liberty, unfortunately. To convince enough non-libertarians to allow freedom, you need to argue the benefits of whatever it is.

      1. Yep. There is nothing essentially libertarian about Utilitarian arguments, and in common practice more often than not they become effectively antithetical to liberty.

      2. Yup. The fact is most people don’t care about principles. I do 99% of the time, but there are some issues where I simply don’t CARE what the principled argument is… Because IMO it is outweighed by practical issues. This is why I am 110% against open borders, and want a well thought out immigration system. Becoming a 3rd world country IS NOT worth it just so I can say I’m principled about freedom of movement.

        So I’m principled on most things, and utilitarian on others. The thing is, the REASON I am libertarian on most things IS because it works best in almost all instances.

        Question: If libertarianism provided objectively WORSE results in almost every single area… Why SHOULD anybody be for it? If libertarianism created the living hell that Stalinist communism does, it would make NO SENSE to be in favor of it. It is the fact that it works sooo much better than top down control that gives it any real value at all.

        If well intended top down control created sunshine and rainbows, and decentralization was poverty and death… One would be a fool to not want top down control. Fortunately that is not the case, so we mostly get to have our cake and eat it too!

        1. The thing about vaccinations is that they are fine, IN THEORY.

          But in practice things have gone off track in the USA. We vaccinate for far more things than make any sense. This is a waste of money, for one. For two every vaccination DOES carry the risk of a complication. Usually they’re small, but they also kill people sometimes… And risking death to protect from something you’ll never actually encounter makes little sense. Others, like flu, almost never work, because they can’t accurately predict the strain going around in a given year. I haven’t got any in eons, but might for some if there was a valid reason to get a particular one.

    2. I think I missed the part where she said she was going to do it “all the time” (as you put it).

  17. she tells a story that contains obvious falsehoods. But since it includes an element you want to hear you are going to pretend it’s not bullshit.


    1. And Jacob, characterizing her statement as ‘candor’ is fucking Orwellian.

      the quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.

      I can think of other C words that better describe her statement.

      Calculated and corrupt for starters.

  18. Given Harris’ bloody arrogance and deceptions, it’s going to be a pleasure watching this one self-destruct over the next 20 months or so. Go down in flames babe, in flames.

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  20. Jacob, I am completely against you on the “one cheer” thing. It is unspeakably despicable for someone who spent years and built a professional reputation prosecuting pot offenses, steadfastly opposing pot law reforms and actually laughing at a political opponent who argued in favor of legalization to now boast about her own pot use, express surprise that anyone would question her devotion to pot, cite pot smoking as a source of “joy” that people need more of in their lives, and generally present herself as the second coming of Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh.

    At least Bush/Cruz/Clinton/Obama had enough decency to at least act embarrassed about having gotten away with the same conduct that they were incarcerating others for.

  21. So many reasons to dislike Harris. She’s political and a hypocrite. That’s a given, no?

  22. Hmmm…if only she hadn’t launched her career by locking people up for this, despite admitting that she did it herself and, if her stated musical preferences are to be believed, continued doing it while locking people up.

    Burn in hell, you pandering, hypocritical bitch.

  23. You’re watching the sausage being made, folks. This is how Reason, et al., rationalize their voting strategy in elections.

      1. But it is a kinder gentler sort of drug war.

    1. Yup

  24. The sound of one hand clapping for Kamala “I’m legit black, yo!” Harris.

    “Yo my peeeeople where yous at black? I used a joint in college yo and I listened to Notorious Biggie and Pacman Shakur before theys was even existant. I know yous alls can relate to that! Hahaaa! Too much realness yo! I’m jus’ here politickin’ wit’ my nigga Charlatan tha God yo peace to my Venezuelan niggas just tryna be eatin right now.”

    Corrupt ex-prosecutor drug warrior tries to make herself more relatable by lying and being incredibly condescending to the little people who are supposed to just believe her.

    1. LOL

      It would actually be HILARIOUS if she NEVER really did get stoned… And politics in America had just degenerated so badly that leftists Pols feel the need to LIE and SAY they did drugs to get votes… What a sick/sad world that would be.

      Oh wait, we’re living in it… SHIT.

    2. Harris is incredible–a candidate that combines the worst of Obama with the worst of Hillary.

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