Is Senator Kamala Harris Sincere About Supporting Marijuana Reform?


It wasn’t that long ago that many in the political world considered supporting cannabis reform to be political suicide. After Oregon failed to legalize cannabis in 2012 I text my friend that worked at the Oregon Legislature as a staffer and asked him what he thought about the Oregon Legislature stepping up and passing legalization. After explaining to me that he didn’t think legislators would touch an issue that just failed at the ballot box, his exact words to me at the time were, ‘plus it is political suicide.’

Much has changed since 2012. 2012 was the last year that Gallup’s annual marijuana legalization poll showed a majority of Americans supporting cannabis prohibition. After Colorado and Washington State legalized cannabis in 2012 support has surged. Gallup’s poll for 2017 found that 64% of Americans now support legalization.

The rise in support in polling has been paralleled by a rise in support in politics. No longer is support for cannabis reform seen as being political suicide. A growing number of politicians are getting on the right side of history with every passing election. Some were voted in, but many more are lawmakers that have had an expressed ‘change of heart.’ It is always hard to tell if a former opponent/non-supporter is sincere when they change their stance on cannabis policy, as I have written about before from an industry perspective.

With politicians, it’s a little different than with the cannabis industry in that they have the actual power to change cannabis laws. In the cannabis industry, it’s easy to disregard people for being the greedy opportunistic jacktivists that some members are in the cannabis space. But in the game of politics, having someone that is willing and able to change cannabis policy is a significant thing, and thus the cannabis movement basically needs all of the votes in Congress (and state legislatures) that they can get.

But that’s not to say that just because a politician expresses support for cannabis reform that they should be supported at all costs. Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was rescinding Obama-era guidance which provided some protections for states that have legalized cannabis. A flood of outrage came out of not only the cannabis activist community, but also from a laundry list of federal politicians. Tom Angell has a stellar list on his website Marijuana Moment which I encourage everyone to check out.

The outpouring was very inspiring to see. But there was one politician that was quickly called out by Tom Angell, and rightfully so because her support for cannabis reform seems much more opportunistic than it does sincere. Below are some of Tom’s tweets:

Tom, as always, is crushing it. If you have not already signed up to support his work, you really need to do so. I do, and everyone else should that cares about cannabis reform because he is a one-man cannabis reform army. Tom was not the only prominent cannabis activist to call out Senator Harris. Shaleen Title, who is on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and is an all-around freedom fighting amazing activist, tweeted the following:

Politicians that are sincere about cannabis reform should be welcomed into the cannabis community (within reason). But when all a politician does is collect cannabis reform supporters’ e-mail addresses for the likely purpose of spamming them for campaign contributions in the future, while simultaneously doing nothing to actually support cannabis, that’s not OK. Clearly, Senator Harris is currently a politician that is just trying to capitalize on the moment, but does not truly support cannabis reform.

Senator Kamala Harris needs to step up and introduce a bill or at least co-sponsor a bill. I am by no means saying to condemn Kamala Harris forever because I am hopeful that she will finally be inspired enough to do something meaningful for cannabis reform. But I do think that no cannabis supporter should provide her their e-mail address until she puts some action behind her tweets.

As Tom tweeted above, there are a number of bills that Senator Harris could add her name to. If she wanted to craft something of her own, I am sure that reform organizations and activists would be more than willing to help her out in order to create something stellar. If you want to help urge Senator Harris to really get on the right side of history, you can contact her office at this link here. Let her know what you think.

By the way, you will see on the contact form page that Senator Harris lists 30 different issues someone can select from as part of the contact form. Cannabis is not one of them…

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