Kamala Harris

Former Drug Warrior Kamala Harris Wants To Legalize Pot. Can She Flip Joe Biden?

Once a staunch prohibitionist, the Democratic vice-presidential pick is arguably the most libertarian senator on marijuana.


A funny thing happened to Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) on her way to the Democratic Party's vice-presidential nomination: She is no longer "the drug warrior, vice cop, and draconian prosecutor" she used to be. When it comes marijuana, she has gone from being a hardline prohibitionist to one of the more pro-legalization members of the U.S. Senate.

As Kyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment, a pro-legalization website, writes:

Though she coauthored an official voter guide argument opposing a California cannabis legalization measure as a prosecutor in 2010 and laughed in the face of a reporter who asked her about the issue in 2014, she went on to sponsor legislation to federally deschedule marijuana in 2019.

When Harris was running for reelection as San Francisco's district attorney, she boasted that she "closed legal loopholes that were allowing drug dealers to escape prosecution" and bragged that she "increased convictions of drug dealers from 56% in 2003 to 74% in 2006." But in the Senate, Harris has been an outspoken proponent of marijuana reform and rarely misses an opportunity to highlight her desire to legalize weed (and, on occasion, her past experience smoking it). Earlier this year—on 4/20, naturally—she tweeted that the "Senate must pass my Marijuana Opportunity Act to legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge non-violent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions who've been arrested or incarcerated. Too many lives have been ruined by these regressive policies."

Harris has supported including marijuana businesses (in states where pot has been legalized) in various coronavirus relief bills, applauded the governor of Illinois for expunging the pot-related convictions of over 10,000 people, pushed for increasing the number of federally authorized marijuana growers for research, and called the War on Drugs an "abject failure."

All this reflecting public opinion. According to Gallup, two-thirds of Americans support legalizing weed, including 76 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, and 51 percent of Republicans. Few issues outside of mom, apple pie, and ice cream carry similar levels of approval.

I don't doubt that Harris' evolution on legalizing marijuana has been driven as much or more by political contingency as by principle. I also don't really care. Like President Donald Trump (who says he supports returning decisions about the legal status of pot to the states), her public statements put her on the right side of this issue.

This puts important distance between her and Vice President Mike Pence (a social conservative last seen attacking legislation that would allow legal cannabis operations access to normal banking services) and her running mate Joe Biden, an ardent drug warrior who remains obstinate about embracing federal legalization.

The question of why Harris has become more libertarian on pot is far less pressing than whether she will be able to convince Biden and the Democratic Party, which just refused to add a platform plank backing legalization, to reconsider their positions. Here's hoping she applies as much pressure as needed to flip Biden, who has been known to brag about his role in creating the office of the drug czar.

Either way, her journey from collegiate smoker to prohibitionist to legalizer is a reminder that elected officials rarely actually lead on anything. They follow where the public is already headed, which in this case is toward more freedom and individual choice.

NEXT: Michigan Governor Issues Executive Order To Enforce Her Other COVID-19 Executive Orders

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It would be ironic if she is actually the one to push through federal legalization. I’ll take it, no matter who it is. But Harris doing it would be the cherry on top.

    1. There is no reason to believe she means this.

      1. Political evolution is so, um, inspiring to watch.

        1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

          Here’s what I do……………..► Cash Mony System

      2. I would bet real money in Vegas that she doesn’t mean it.

    2. Only Nixon could go to China

    3. Weed is already legal because the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional.

      unreason is so silly because they dont even know how the Constitution works.

    4. She was running for president, she didn’t change her mind actually, she just did what she thought could get her more votes. When she was the “imprison everyone” candidate it was for the same reason. It’s not a moral position, it’s a what will get me the most votes position. Calling her a libertarian over this is ludicrous.

    5. Wasn’t she in the Senate. Were her goddamn arms broken that she couldn’t actually introduce a bill?

      Lying cop.

  2. Kamala Harris is “the most libertarian senator” on a law she used to lock thousands of people up? This is probably the rough draft for Reason’s upcoming “The Libertarian Case for Kamala Harris” article.

    1. Well, what could be more Libertarian than ranking as the number two socialist in the Senate?

    2. To be fair… she laughed on radio about smoking it herself listening to some snoop and Tupac 5 years before they made an album.

      1. 5 years for thee and a laugh for me

        1. Make $6,000-$8,000 A Month Online With No Prior Experience Or Skills Required. Be Your Own Boss And for more info visit any tab this site Thanks a lot just open this link…..

          =======► Click here

    3. hey, if the LP can nominate Bob Barr….

    4. unreason lost their minds 3 years ago when Trump took office.

      Luckily, Trump will be reelected so we can all collect tears from unreason staffers.

  3. only an intellectual dilettante like Nickie could start a thought with “the most libertarian senator’ and end it with “Harris”….really, the black hair dye is eating his brain away now

    1. And probably the toxins leeching from whatever materials preserve his stupid leather jacket.

      Harris is arguably the least genuine Dem in the Senate. Of course Nick Gillespie would be stupid enough to take her at her word and assume she’s not just lying about her views on pot too.

  4. ‘The Libertarian Case for Kamala Harris’? Little early for that article, Gillespie.

    I’m sure she’ll give as much credence to legalization of marijuana, as Donald Trump did to his Second Amendment Coalition. Then again, Bob Barr was once your party’s candidate for President, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    It would be an outstanding move for Trump to de-Schedule marijuana. I think he could do it without Congress’s say-so too. Especially after the bumpstock reexamination debacle.

    1. The DOJ can be ordered to do thins at any given cabinet meeting.
      The LAW says a schedule 1 listing requires NO medical uses; Google and 5 seconds should take care of that detail.

    2. I was about to say the same about the timely opportunity Trump has to take marijuana off Schedule I, but don’t know that it would occur to him or any of his people, sad to say.

      1. “I was about to say the same about the timely opportunity Trump has to take marijuana off Schedule I, but don’t know that it would occur to him or any of his people, sad to say.”

        Tweet it to him? I’m somewhat serious. Or to Don, Jr., or anyone else he might listen to. It’s a no-brainer, IMHO.

      2. I was about to say the same about the timely opportunity Trump has to take marijuana off Schedule I, but don’t know that it would occur to him or any of his people, sad to say.

        Were I part of his campaign, I’d put it on the To Do list at the end of Oct. and wait to see how well Biden/Harris do with the topic on TV and in the polls.

        1. Exactly what I was thinking. If we’re going to see Trump do this, it would be as an October surprise.

          In fact, the more I think about it the more likely it seems. If he sells it as allowing states to set their own policy, there’s virtually no political risk (conservative prohibitionists would still get their prohibition in red states) but plenty of political gain.

  5. There’s no way she has enough upper body strength to flip Biden.

    1. Upper body strength not necessary, ol’ Joe will flip for any woman.

    2. if she gets him coming off the turnbuckle she’s probably thick enough

      1. There’s only room for one Kamala in wrestling.

        1. I heard there’s an opening. (too soon?)

          1. If it would advance her politically, Kamala has an opening.

  6. Is it really fair to paint someone’s position on an issue as libertarian when the position is not taken in furtherance of libertarian philosophy, but rather to pander to the electorate?

    1. fair or not, we’ll take it.

    2. This!

    3. You mean ‘pander to the electorate’ isn’t the LP’s philosophy? I thought after the recent shakeup that was explicitly the case.

      1. Wouldn’t say Jo is pandering to the electorate.
        She’s definitely pandering to special interests though

  7. The most libertarian senator on marijuana? I don’t think she’s still on marijuana, is she?

    1. The answer depends on how many votes she can get.

  8. I’m waiting for the day she admits she inhaled. Even Bloomie admits he liked it.

    1. She said she did on the radio show. Just nobody believes her story.

      1. That might have something to do with saying she was listening to Snoop 10 years before he was making music. Either she’s lying or that weed was laced with some serious stuff.

      2. same interview said she also listened to Snoop six years before he recorded anything.

      3. I heard she said she was listening to Snoop Dog and he hadn’t even made any albums yet. Can anyone confirm this?

        1. She got ahold of his middle school cassette tape. Give her a break.

  9. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/14/kevin-clinesmith-corrupt-fbi-attorney-who-falsified-carter-page-fisa-warrant-expected-to-plead-guilty/

    Holy shit, the former general counsel of the FBI is going to plead guilty to falsifying a FISA warrant against Carter Page.

    That is an admission that the entire Russia thing was a hoax. It is also the highest ranking federal official to go to jail since Ann Burford then a cabinet member under Reagan went to jail for lying to Congress (oh back when that was a crime) in the 80s.

    The head lawyer of the FBI is going to jail. Now tell us more about that “scandal free” Obama administration.

    1. Old news. Russiagate isn’t a thing unless you are still quoting Mueller for obstruction.

      1. The same people who were quoting Louisa Mensch as an authority for two years are now going to claim that no one ever accused Trump of colluding with the Russians. The whole thing is just old news and a “right wing meme” like QAnon and Pizzagate. These people’s ability to lie without shame astounds me. It shouldn’t after all this time but it still does.

    2. If only Fox, The Federalist, and Breitbart carry it, who’s going to know? Preaching to the choir, because CNN/MSDNC and mainstream media isn’t going to carry it.

      1. No one watches CNN and MSDNC. Have you seen their ratings? You know who will talk about it? Tucker Carlson. And last I heard he had the highest rated cable news show in history. And people will post in on social media and torture their Obama loving friends with it as well. It will get out.

        Beyond that, even CNN and the mainstream media will have to cover it. They won’t say much and will do everything to diminish it’s importance, but they will have to cover it some.

        1. It’ll be entertaining to see them spin this.

    3. Falsifying a FISA Warrant. For a court that had something like an—allegedly—10,000 to 4 approved/rejected ratio for warrant requests.

      That’s how bullshit their entire case was on this scandal.

    4. The head lawyer of the FBI is going to jail.

      I wouldn’t bet on it. More likely he’s copping a plea that will let him avoid prison completely.


  10. the feds will never “legalize” anything where both sides donate to the yes/no … if Harris is your choice because the green, try harder.

  11. Yay the veep is for hookers dope and illegals. Should be a great decade and a half of fun until the collapse.

    1. Weed and Mexicans? 2 parts of the libertarian trifecta.

      1. All we need is cocaine and ass-sex and we’re in libertopia.

    2. the libertarian case for Harris practically writes itself

    3. Every day I wonder if we’re about to relive the 20’s (post global pandemic), or the 70’s (pre runaway inflation).

      Yay the veep is for hookers dope and illegals.

      The 20’s it is!

    4. Aww poor baby your precious war on Hispanics has failed so badly that you losers had to align with the blacks to help and you still cant win it.

  12. Well, she certainly is talented at lying through her teeth whenever it suits her current goals, but that doesn’t make her libertarian in any way, shape or form.

    But the article was indeed funny, it’s almost as funny as the fact that the DNC picked her as VP out of all the available options.

  13. This is based upon the premise that politicians say what they believe and keep their promises.

    There’s a word for an argument based upon a false premise. Oh yeah. Fallacy.

  14. Legal pot for the select privileged members of society who haven’t been arrested already for nefarious activities ranging from using plastic straws to being a parent of a public school student

    1. Or just legalized pot for everyone to open up the space in jail for people convicted of using a plastic straw or not wearing a mask.

      I find it believable that she could legalize pot because she thinks it would be good politics. Lots of times people will do the right thing for the wrong reasons. What is not believable is any idea that she wouldn’t replace the marijuana laws with equally nasty and unjust new laws.

      1. Prosecutors gonna prosecute.

  15. Partially end the drug war to start the war on peaceable gun owners.

    Still a negative net change in liberty

    1. Don’t forget about the war on plastic straw users, the war on “sex trafficking,” and the war on “climate change.” Oh, and let’s not forget a continuation of the last 20 years or so of actual wars since Biden/ Harris are all in favor of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that intervention is awesome.

      All in exchange for a little more freedom in our choice of legal intoxicants? No thanks.

  16. I don’t doubt that Harris’ evolution on legalizing marijuana has been driven as much or more by political contingency as by principle.

    I have little doubt that her “evolution” on marijuana is entirely driven by political considerations and not by principle, which makes it impossible to trust that she’ll actually follow through on it in any way, shape, or form. For one thing, she’s just the VP candidate. Even if Biden wins I doubt he’ll change his mind just because she whispers some sweet nothings in his ear and let’s him sniff her hair (and … other things). And even after Biden’s sudden death/ step down for “health reasons”/ amendment 25 removal from office I highly doubt she’ll do anything about legalizing weed.

    Just once it would be nice to have major party candidate for either president or VP actually base their positions on principle instead of political expediency but that’s asking for way, way too much.

  17. People can change their positions. The problem with Harris is it isn’t honest. It’s nothing more than political climbing. She’d re-reverse her position in a second if there were a political reason to do so.

    1. Exactly. And the proof of that is that she really can’t explain why her opinion has changed.

      1. I would give a politician a fair shake, even if they just came out and set, “I reject everything I said before because I now realize it was wrongheaded” But all too often, they ‘defend’ their prior “public service” while trying to redirect attention away from the old positions, and act like the new position was always part of the repertoire.

    2. Harris has way too much history and record, and not nearly enough time apologizing for her authoritarian excesses in the drug war. I want to see more apologies along with an actual shift in her record, before I I pronounce her the Great Libertarian Hope of Color.

      1. How many weeks until we get “The Libertarian Case for Joe Biden”. I’m almost afraid to google it.

  18. ●US Dollar Rain Earns upto $550 to $750 per day by google fantastic job oppertunity provide for our community pepoles who,s already using facebook to earn money 85000$ every month and more through facebook and google new project to create money at home withen few hours.Everybody can get this job now and start earning online by just open this link and then go through instructions to get started……….COPY HERE====►►CLICK HERE.

  19. > the Democratic vice-presidential pick is arguably the most libertarian senator on marijuana.

    Nick, Nick, Nick, what the fuck have you been ingesting? Whatever it is, I think it’s gone bad. Don’t be freebasing tainted MDMA. You’re starting to mumble like that crazy homeless dude that lives in the drain pipe down the street.

    Kamala Harris can say whatever the fuck she wants to say, but in the end she still has a solid record of actively locking up marijuana users and opposing any leniency against them. If she is now saying otherwise, it’s just so she can get the Democrat vote, after she wins she’ll go back to the traditional Democrat stance of locking up drug users of color.

  20. All due respect to everyone involved… I think “marijuana” as a political flashpoint is going to be the least of our worries over the next four to eight years.

  21. You can consume all the marijuana you like completely legally as long as you don’t remove your mandatory mask while doing so.

  22. “The question of why Harris has become more libertarian on pot is far less pressing than whether she will be able to convince Biden and the Democratic Party, which just refused to add a platform plank backing legalization, to reconsider their positions. Here’s hoping she applies as much pressure as needed to flip Biden, who has been known to brag about his role in creating the office of the drug czar.”

    And this is the reveal. She knows the marijuana bill is going nowhere, so this is all pandering. What could be more calculated than tweeting about it on 4/20? She’s looking for the stoner vote. She’s not trying to change policy.

    This is JUST LIKE Biden pretending to give a shit about black voters.

  23. The clash of Harris’ modern decency and Pence’s stale prudishness on marijuana won’t be the highlight of the debate.

    The highlight will be when an exasperated Pence finally erupts with ‘you are a prideful woman of haughty spirit, KAMala — or whatever your Kenyan name is — and I admonish you to remember the teaching of Isaiah on how the Lord God Our Savior Jesus The Christ Child And King Of Kings will judge such abomination with righteous fury on that great Day Of Rapture when the wickedness of today’s sinful and impure America will finally be called to account before . . . oops, sorry . . . could you repeat the question?’

    1. Isaiah was old testament.

    2. corrected, Harris’ modern recidivism

  24. And what’s Rand Paul, chopped liver?

  25. You’re an idiot if you believe for a hot second she means even one word of this. Kamala Harris would strip naked and suck a dick on national TV if she thought it would get people to vote for her. She will say and do anything she believes people want to see/hear.

  26. why does she sound like she is hyperventilating every time she speaks more than two consecutive sentences?

    1. Side effect of the botox?


  27. No this affirmative action thug is not going to end the drug war. Like Obomba they’ll talk a good game and will do nothing. Stop thinking bootlickers can be reformed

  28. She certainly supported the drug war when she was a prosecutor (cop). It’s amazing how people like her and David Brooks can say “hey I smoked weed when I was a privileged college kid but we should lock people up for drugs.”

  29. Hey, who else remembers how President Choom promised to make the DEA quit persecuting medical cannabis patients and only delivered a 48 hour hiatus before they went back to robbing dispensaries?

    Good times…


  30. job opportunity for everyone! Work from comfort of your home, on your computer And you cAn work with your own working hours. You cAn work this job As A pArt time or As A full time job. You cAn eArn from 65$ An hour to 1000$ A dAy! There is no limitAtions, it All depends from you And how much you wAnt to eArn eAch dAy…..Click here for full detail.

  31. Pander is not that cute animal in the zoo.

  32. two words (three actually, but don’t wreck my fun) you never thought you’d see in the same sentence kamala harris and libertarian. fun fact, her index finger is chapped from licking it to see which way the wind is blowing! los californios know her…she’s a clever opportunist without a principled bone in her body, including willie brown’s. she has spent zero days on any payroll except ours. let’s hope maya rudolph can be true to her comedy core and skewer harris as skillfully as she has previously. trump, biden and harris make for world class memes, so at least the election cycle will be amusing

  33. years ago after he got elected (and the TDS frenzy began) i thought trump would be wise to stump for federally legalized dope (technically re-legalization) a month or two before the next election. he’d kill the stoner vote boners and send the hack media into spasms. he can prattle about the made in USA bong industry, tot Miracle Gro and then move on to the next meaningless issue

  34. California voted to legalize the sale of recreational pot the same year Harris was elected as a CA senator. She had been CA attorney general since 2010, when Gavin Newsom was already lieutenant governor. So she was high up in state level government when CA finally legalized and she had a close view on the way the state structured the laws for dispensary licensing, growing, transportation and use.
    Politicians do lie all the time. However, Harris may have actually changed her mind about pot after seeing CA could do it and nothing exploded. One thing legalization did not do though was somehow put the underground market out of business (yet), it did put some growers out of business who wouldn’t/couldn’t get permits, and it didn’t bring in as much tax money as they hoped yet AFAIK, but the state was otherwise fine.

  35. Wow Nick. Can you fluff Kamala harder?

  36. How has the president not named her Kamala Chameleon?

  37. Ask Biden and Whutzername if prohibitionist asset-forfeiture has anything to do with flash crashes, recessions or unemployment.

  38. Start making cash online work easily from home.i have received a paycheck of $24K in this month by working online from home.i am a student and i just doing this job in my spare HERE? Read More

  39. She has that “go fuck yourself” expression. I wonder if she’s ever been diagnosed as bipolar or some other mental problem.

  40. This makes me think of the same sex marriage where Biden came out for it before President Obama. This could be similar, VP Harris comes out for marijuana legalization to test the waters and then President Biden follows. Don’t care how its is done it is time.

  41. This woman literally went on Colbert 2 nights ago and said she lied about Biden being a racist because ‘it was a debate’.
    Nick thinking she isn’t lying because ‘it’s an election’ isn’t naive, it’s stupid.
    Nick wants so bad for the Democrats to be sane again so he can go back to being a closet liberal…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.