Yesterday Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Jerrold Nadler introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, a bill to federally legalize, commercialize, and tax the use of marijuana.
Senator Harris owns much responsibility for the marijuana problems that plague the state of California. When she first ran for Attorney General in 2010 she promised not to go after the marijuana industry. She kept the hands-off approach, allowing illegal growers whose plants continue the destruction of the environment in California. Four federal district attorneys still prosecuted marijuana growers, despite Harris’ opposition.
More blame should laid on her than anyone else, because she wrote the ballot to legalize marijuana in California. Ultimately, she was responsible for the 100-word description that was put on the ballot:
“Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation. Fiscal Impact: Additional tax revenues ranging from high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually, mostly dedicated to specific purposes. Reduced criminal justice costs of tens of millions of dollars annually.”
Senator Harris (or employees in her office) wrote Proposition 64 as a fiscal initiative expected to bring in $1 billion annually, while reducing costs of criminal justice by tens of millions of dollars. We don’t know legalization’s effects on criminal justice costs. But we do know that 80% of the marijuana in California is still sold illegally and the state is only collecting 1/3 of the promised revenue.
The Sacramento Bee reported that NO ONE was in jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2016, the year Harris’ ballot passed with its misleading ballot language.
SAM explains the law as full legalization, not decriminalization
Though articles in the press called this bill decriminalization, that characterization misleads the public. Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana said,
“To be clear, this bill is not a decriminalization bill. This is a bill to legalize the sale of addictive, high potency marijuana candies, gummies, ice creams, soda, waxes, dabs, and concentrates nationwide. It is irresponsible to confuse these two different policies.
“Expunging previous records is commendable, but it is counterproductive to pair that with the commercialization of marijuana that has led to very real negative impacts in the handful of states that have chosen to legalize the drug. Being from California, Senator Harris must know that just last week, her state admitted it has failed to regulate the marijuana industry.
He continued: “Encouraging drug use in disadvantaged communities is in fact a social injustice…they (pot shops) are disproportionately located in low income and minority communities. What’s more, less than one percent of the marijuana industry is minority-owned. The individuals most harmed by previous drug laws are not the ones benefited by commercialization.”
As a Libertarian publication reports, the Harris-Nadler bill takes legalization and commercialization much further than any other marijuana bill.
The social justice gimmick
No state created racial equity or social justice by legalizing marijuana. Legalization states have brought more addiction to all kinds of drugs, for all races, with marijuana as the foundation drug. There’s also the increase in murder, other crimes and traffic deaths that accompanies an impaired populace, many suffering with hallucinations.
In California, pregnant women use marijuana at an alarming rate, apparently oblivious to the harms it may cause to fetuses. The rise occurred under Harris’ tenure as Attorney General, and it affected the young women, low-income women and African-American women.
Getting more pregnant women to use pot is not a win for social justice, but, rather, an agent of inequality.
Representative’s in Nadler’s home state of New York rejected social justice reasons for legalizing, while expunging marijuana convictions. We can support social justice reform without giving the green light to the marijuana industry.
Senator Harris probably knows that the “joy” marijuana initially brings deteriorates rapidly. The rest of the country rejects her marijuana mistakes. Harris’ gimmick of revenue promoted Prop 64, and now she uses the social justice ploy to deceive the public.