In an interview with the famed morning radio show “The Breakfast Club” this week, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris was confronted with her history on the subject of marijuana reform.
Lenard “Charlamagne Tha God” McKelvey had already dove deep with Harris on various criminal justice related issues throughout the 45-minute long interview, before he pivoted to the question of cannabis legalization, saying, “Also I know the answer to this, but they say you oppose legalizing.”
“That’s not true,” Harris quickly retorted. Charlamagne quipped again he knew that already.
“I joke about it, half-jokingly. Half my family is from Jamaica — are you kidding me?” said Harris. “I’ve had concerns. First of all, let me just make a statement and be very clear. I believe we need to legalize marijuana. Now that being said… and this is not a ‘but,’ it’s an ‘and.’ And we need to research, which is one of the reasons we need to legalize.”
Harris went on to note that cannabis needs to be rescheduled to allow for more thorough scientific research on the impact of cannabis on the developing brain. “We’ve got to take that seriously, so I believe we have to research that. I believe we don’t fully know the consequences,” said Harris.
The other cannabis issue she noted was the problem of how to measure impairment when someone is high and behind the wheel.
“These are details some people might not want to hear about or talk about, but look, I started my work when Mothers Against Drunk Driving were active because so many young people were actively being killed because people who were driving under the influence,” she explained.
Harris said that’s her background and that’s just how she thinks about the things. She moved on to the negative aspects of prohibition. She noted that the United States has been disproportionately incarcerating so many young men, particularly young men of color, for cannabis crimes. She said that other (read: white) young men who use cannabis at the same rates have not faced the same consequences.
“We’ve got to deal with that, in addition to dealing with the fact that all drugs are not the same. Look, I have forever been an advocate for medicinal marijuana,” said Harris, as she spoke of the people she knew personally that had benefited from medical cannabis.
But what exactly is Harris’s record on medical marijuana?
Kamala Harris’s Cannabis Record
When Harris was the district attorney of San Francisco, her office argued that the law forbid all cannabis sales, despite the state’s Prop. 215 medical marijuana law.
After her appearance on “The Breakfast Club,” California NORML issued a press release that expanded on the reasons why Harris has not “always” been a proponent of a legal cannabis market.
“As DA of San Francisco, Harris opposed Prop. 19 to legalize recreational marijuana in California in 2010,” the release stated, quoting Harris’s campaign manager Brian Brokaw in 2010.
“Spending two decades in courtrooms, Harris believes that drug selling harms communities,” said Brokaw in 2010, according to NORML. “Harris supports the legal use of medicinal marijuana but does not support anything beyond that.”
But NORML notes that it doesn’t oppose once-prohibitionist politicians changing their tune.
“We’re happy California’s Senator Harris has evolved on the marijuana legalization issue and hope to dialog with her and her staff as her campaign moves forward,” said California NORML deputy director Ellen Komp.
Kamala Harris Says Smoking Cannabis ‘Gives a Lot of People Joy’
After Harris gave her impassioned speech about cannabis, Charlamagne looked her in the eye and very straightforwardly asked her if she had ever smoked.
“I have, and I did inhale,” Harris said, as she laughed alone.
As co-host DJ Envy let the pair chatting know it was almost time to go, Charlamagne spoke over him to Harris asking she had smoked when she was in college.
“Uh huh,” said Harris.
“That’s a real hundred answer, was it a blunt or joint?” Charlamagne pressed.
“Joint,” Harris replied.
“Hey!” Charlamagne said. “Do you remember the high?”
“I do,” she said.
Charlamagne then asked, in a roundabout manner, if Harris would smoke once cannabis were federally legal. “Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy,” Harris said, as she and Charlamagne busted out laughing at her reply.
Before they were done laughing, Charlamagne quickly changed the topic to big banks and all the fun was over — but not long after the topic came back up. At another point in the interview, Harris was asked what kind of music she listened to when she was high in college. DJ Envy called out, “Was it Snoop?!”
“Oh yeah, definitely Snoop,” Harris recounted. “Tupac for sure.”
Not long after the interview began to circle, cannabis advocates noted the timelines just didn’t match up.
“So Kamala Harris says she smoked weed in college while listening to Snoop and Tupac. The problem is she graduated undergrad in 1986 and law school in 1989… one of Snoop’s first appearances was Dre’s solo album in 1992 and Tupac’s first album came out in 1991,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri noted on Facebook.
Longtime cannabis blogger Johnny Green broke it down even further.
“Are we just disregarding the possibility that Kamala had access to underground hip hop mixtapes in 1989? I know from a Warren G interview that said mixtapes for Snoop were in existence at that time, albeit very unlikely in the possession of soon-to-graduate-from-law-school Kamala Harris,” said Green, on Facebook as well.
While some were quick to jump on the softball “bad stoner memory” joke, others wondered if it may be something a bit darker. What if Harris wasn’t mistaken about the tunes she was listening to while she puffed? In that regard, the Washington Examiner asked: Was Harris getting stoned while serving as an anti-pot prosecutor?
The idea of the district attorney’s office locking away various residents of Alameda County from 1990 to 1998 for cannabis crimes, while she was puffing away listening to debut LPs from Snoop and Tupac, is fairly horrifying, if true.
TELL US, how many politicians do you think have smoked weed?