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Harris: Current Marijuana Scheduling “Absurd”

US Vice-President Kamala Harris participated in a roundtable conversation on marijuana reform last week, discussing the “injustices” seen in current federal policy.

“I have said many times: I believe — I think we all at this table believe — nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed,” said the Vice-President. “And what we need to do is recognize that far too many people have been sent to jail for simple marijuana possession.”

Joined by a few of those pardoned from federal convictions for simple marijuana possession, VP Harris summarised the actions by the Biden Administration to address the issue. Among them, in October 2022 President Joe Biden tasked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to commence an administrative process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law – a process that is still under way.

On that note, the VP gave the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has final say on recommendations from that review, a bit of a poke.

“And I cannot emphasize enough that they need to get to it as quickly as possible, and we need to have a resolution based on their findings and their assessment.”

Vice-President Harris commented on marijuana’s current scheduling – Schedule I, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs.

“Marijuana is considered as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than fentanyl, which is absurd, not to mention patently unfair.”

Also attending the roundtable was Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear; who has been a strong supporter of medicinal cannabis and addressing the issue of Kentuckians with simple marijuana possession convictions.

“So, he’s going to talk with us about that as a model for what other states can and should do,” said the Vice-President. “And I challenge other states to follow his lead.”

Kamala Harris hasn’t always supported change. As a San Francisco prosecutor and California’s attorney general, she was opposed cannabis legalization.

President Joe Biden reiterated his Administration’s stance in his recent State of the Union address, following up on X with the comment:

“No one should be jailed just for using or possessing marijuana.”

In what is an election year, the Biden team has another important reason for marijuana policy change – votes. In a poll carried out just after the October 2022 announcement, 72% of respondents supported removal of the Schedule I classification, and two-thirds supported pardoning all prior federal convictions for marijuana possession.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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