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Did Kamala Harris Flip-Flop on Marijuana Again to Adopt Biden’s Anti-Legalization Position?
Does Vice President Kamala Harris still support legalizing marijuana? According to a short passage buried in a new Bloomberg report about efforts to appoint a new top White House drug policy official, the answer seems to be no.
Harris, who sponsored a comprehensive Senate bill to end federal cannabis prohibition in 2019, has now reportedly adopted the same position as President Joe Biden, who opposes legalization, the outlet reported on Monday.
There have been signs that might be the case, as Harris has stepped back her calls for broad reform in recent months, opting instead to push for cannabis decriminalization and expungements in line with the president’s agenda.
Bloomberg reported that an aide Harris’s team said her “positions are now the same as Biden’s,” though the source asked not to be named because the vice president hasn’t announced the policy shift.
Biden AG Pick Restates Pledge to Respect State Marijuana Laws, In Writing
President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as U.S. attorney general has reiterated in written testimony to multiple senators that he does not feel the Department of Justice should be using its resources to prosecute people who are acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.
In a series of responses to questions from lawmakers who followed up on last week’s committee confirmation hearings, Judge Merrick Garland made clear that, from his perspective, the government should be focusing on large-scale criminal enterprises that circumvent state legalization laws instead of going after people who are abiding by local cannabis policies.
He made similar comments during questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The panel formally approved his confirmation on Monday, clearing the path to a full vote in the chamber.
Pennsylvania Governor Grants 69 Marijuana Pardons as Lawmakers Move Bipartisan Legalization Bill
As Pennsylvania lawmakers are set to take up a new bipartisan marijuana legalization bill, the governor on Monday announced that he granted expedited pardons for low-level cannabis offenses for 69 more people.
Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed off on the clemency actions last week as part of the Expedited Review Program for Non-Violent Marijuana-Related Offenses through the state Board of Pardons. With this latest round, a total of 95 people have had their cannabis convictions pardoned through the initiative to date.
The governor also issued pardons for 241 unrelated offenses for a total of 310 last week. He said in a press release that the clemency gives these people “a chance to put the conviction behind them, offering them more opportunities as they build careers, buy homes, and move on with their lives free of this burden.”
Top Washington, D.C. Lawmaker Files Competing Legal Marijuana Bill Days After Mayor Unveils Her Plan
On Monday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) introduced a cannabis regulation bill that’s being touted by reform advocates. The move comes days after Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) unveiled her own reform proposal, setting the stage for some debate as the city moves to enact the policy change.
At face value, the competing pieces of legislation are similar: both would build on the District’s 2014 law legalizing marijuana possession and home cultivation by creating a regulated market that prioritizes social equity just as such a move is expected to be finally allowed with Democrats in control of Congress and empowered to remove a federal rider that has blocked local reform in the nation’s capital.
But there are differences between the leaders’ bills when it comes to licensing, the tax rate, how revenue is appropriated and expungements.
Rhode Island Senate Approves Bill Allowing Safe Consumption Sites for Illegal Drugs
A bill to authorize the creation of what Rhode Island lawmakers are calling “Harm Reduction Centers,” has returned to the state’s General Assembly after first being introduced in 2019.
If the House passes the bill, and the legislation is signed by Governor Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island could be first state to legalize safe consumption sites for illegal drugs. Lawmakers are defining the “Harm Reduction Centers” as “community based resource[s] for health screening, disease prevention and recovery assistance where persons may safely consume pre-obtained controlled substances.”
A diverse group of witnesses called on the House Committee to green-light the bill. Jorge Elorza, mayor of the state’s capital, Providence, recognized its potential to lower the number of overdose fatalities.
Dr. Elizabeth Samuels, a Brown University professor of emergency medicine and an expert in substance use disorder treatment, noted that, contrary to the derogatory smears of “shooting galleries,” people who access them are more likely to enter substance use disorder treatment.