Capitol Alert

California AG Kamala Harris says she’d work to soften U.S. pot stance

5 things you need to know about the California marijuana proposition

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o
Up Next
California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a leading candidate to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, said she would push to downgrade marijuana’s classification as a federal controlled substance.

Harris, a Democrat, told the editorial board of the Bay Area Reporter that marijuana should not have the same federal classification as heroin, ecstasy and LSD and other narcotics with no accepted medical use. Harris instead believes marijuana belongs with drugs like cocaine, oxycodone and methadone.

“As a U.S. senator, an area of focus for me would be to remove marijuana from Schedule I and put it in Schedule II,” Harris told the board.

A rescheduling could allow states to operate medicinal marijuana programs free from federal interference, and spur a wave of currently blocked federal research.

Harris joins a bipartisan list of U.S. senators, including Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in advocating for further decriminalization of marijuana. President Obama has talked about the shifting attitudes over reclassifying pot, citing the growing costs of incarcerating non-violent drug offenders.

Harris has not come out for a specific proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, but said she is generally supportive of the idea, which she suggested is inevitable given the current climate. Her Democratic opponent, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange, has said she’s open to a state “pilot program” that legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults 21 and over.

A poll last month by the Associated Press and University of Chicago found that 61 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal in the U.S. compared with 39 percent who do not.

Californians will likely have a chance to vote on a recreational legalization measure in November, after rejecting the last attempt in 2010.

Read Next

Marijuana’s effects can vary from person to person, and scientists are not quite sure what to make of the common distinction users and growers make between cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

  Comments