In a long-building pivot toward current mainstream Democratic ideals, Kamala Harris has indicated that she and Joe Biden have both softened their stances on marijuana. Both have been criticized by liberal figures throughout the 2020 election season for their past opposition to the legalization of marijuana. 

However, Harris took to a digital roundtable Tuesday night to paint a picture of a left-leaning future on the matter. Said Harris, “Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge all marijuana-use convictions, and end incarceration for drug use alone.” 

She continued, “This is no time … for half-steppin’, this is no time for incrementalism. We need to deal with the system, and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system.”

joe biden kamala harris marijuana

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In not-so-distant years prior, Harris and Biden had both been sizable figures in government, shaping and executing anti-marijuana rhetoric. Harris, the former Attorney General for California, held a staunch record of promoting the retention of marijuana’s criminal status. 

Furthermore, Biden played an even more pivotal role in the national drug debate, with his co-authoring of the controversial 1994 Crime Bill, which in part embodied the tough-on-crime ideology of the 90s by setting substantial mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana-related offenses. 

Still, there is a noteworthy distinction to be made between legalizing and decriminalizing. The former would permit marijuana to be inducted into the same regulatory commercial processes as alcohol, tobacco, etc., whereas the latter simply ensures that any potential punishment for marijuana-based offenses would not be expressed through criminal prosecution.