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Kamala Harris Proposes Legalizing Cannabis under Criminal Justice Reform Plan




Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled her sweeping criminal justice reform plan on Sept. 9, with plans to legalize cannabis at the federal level, ending federal mandatory minimum sentences, and abolishing solitary confinement and the death penalty. Under her plan, for-profit prisons and cash bail would also be phased out.

Last July, Harris unveiled a bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and provide provisions to expunge or reduce past cannabis-related convictions. Shortly after, Harris was heavily criticized by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her record on cannabis while serving as a state prosecutor in California. Now, Harris is taking her approach to cannabis and criminal reform one step further.

The former prosecutor admitted that the country’s current criminal justice system is in dire need of reform. “My entire career has been spent making needed reforms and fighting for those who too often are voiceless—from young people arrested for the first time and getting them jobs instead of jail, to grieving black mothers who wanted justice for their child’s murder as the system ignored their pain,” Harris wrote in a statement. “This plan uses my experience and unique capability to root out failures within the justice system … As president I’ll fix this broken system to make it fairer and more accountable for communities across the country.”

Harris also called the death penalty “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.” Under her plan, she would also create a National Police Systems Review Board, which would collect data and analyze police shootings and cases of alleged misconduct. 

The Third Democratic Debate is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Houston, Texas. Ten candidates qualified for the debate including Harris, Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.