Who's Got The Grooviest Pot Policy -- Kamala Harris Or Uncle Joe Biden?
Sen. Kamala Harris and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler are set to announce bold new legislation today that goes beyond decriminalization of marijuana, also expunging old criminal convictions related to its use.
HARRIS: We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives
As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.
This legislation will ensure that people of color can benefit from marijuana legalization and not sit on the sidelines as manbun hipsters get rich. The proposed bill would also seal cannabis-related records for qualifying individuals at no cost to them.
Most Democratic candidates for president support decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level, but Harris and Nadler take it up a notch: Their bill proposes a five percent federal tax on the sale of marijuana. This would in turn fund grant programs to help people who were screwed over for past doobie possession. This should improve Harris's standing with people who are still skeptical about her record as a California prosecutor. For instance, when she became attorney general, she didn't immediately free everyone from prison with her official skeleton key that opens all the doors.
The War on Drugs was an abject failure that disproportionately criminalized people of color—it's time we take steps… https://t.co/OMe5WBIPO9— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris)1563891717.0
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden is also hep to the jive. His campaign released a criminal justice reform plan today, and Biden supports Mary Jane decriminalization. He'd even take marijuana off the Drug Enforcement Administration's Reefer Madness list. However, he stops short of supporting legalization for recreational use. This puts him to the right of most of the other 101 Democratic candidates on the issue. Uncle Joe is moving kind of slow at the weed junction.
We admit that we assumed Biden was a wake-and-baker himself. How else did you explain his $400 a day ice cream habit? But that was probably just Onion-Joe or Internet meme fame Joe. We'd love to vote for that guy. Actual Joe Biden isn't the Chronic. He doesn't want to spoil the weed party, but he's not bringing snacks to it, either. His proposal would leave the choice "up to the states," which is more of that scary segregationist speak. We're not saying that progressivism is incompatible with federalism, but if you leave any serious decisions up to the states, too many southern states will turn into Gilead colonies where abortion, same-sex marriage, and overall same-sexness are illegal -- oh, and people get shot for pot. If you're a minority in the South, you don't want MAGA hat wearers bored and with easy access to guns. It's in your best interest if they're all stoned.
Biden's a bit behind the times. His decriminalization but not legalization policy sounds like the toker's paradise Vincent told Jules about in Pulp Fiction. Stampedes of college kids rushed to Amsterdam in 1994, but we demand a little more now. We want to get high on our front porch right underneath the American flag.
Biden would reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug, along with cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl. These are all drugs that the DEA contends has a "high potential" to fuck up your life but good. The upside is that the government can now conduct "research" into marijuana, but not like how sorority sisters "researched" their sexuality in college. This is all serious science in laboratories.
In the meantime, Biden does support legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, so you can still toke as needed if you have, say, glaucoma or just slip your doctor a $20.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."