California Sen. Kamala Harris, reiterating her support for marijuana legalization at the federal level, acknowledged Monday that she's smoked pot in the past, saying: “I have. And I inhaled. I did inhale.”
The 2020 Democratic presidential contender, in discussing the broader use of the drug, said, “I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.”
Harris made her comments on "The Breakfast Club," the New York City-based nationally syndicated radio program hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God. The program touts that it is “the world’s most dangerous morning show.”
"It was a long time ago but yes. I just broke news," the senator and former Golden State attorney general said as she discussed her past pot use. She added that she smoked weed in college and that “it was a joint.”
The subject came up when Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, was asked by the hosts about rumors she opposes marijuana legalization.
“That’s not true. Look, I joke about it, I have joked about it. Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me,” she said, laughing.
But Harris said “we need to research the impact of weed on a developing brain” and said measuring how marijuana impairs people who are driving needs to be addressed.
Harris supports a bill – introduced Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination – that would end the federal marijuana prohibition.
“Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do. Today, I’m announcing my support for @CoryBooker’s Marijuana Justice Act,” she tweeted in May of last year.
Booker spotlighted his calls for legalizing marijuana when he launched his presidential campaign earlier this month. Among those who support Booker’s bill are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – who’s launched a presidential exploratory committee – and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who’s seriously mulling making a second straight run for the White House.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who formally announced her candidacy on Saturday, has pushed for modernizing federal marijuana laws.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states, with several more states weighing legalization this year. Thirty-three states have legalized medicinal marijuana.
Public opinion surveys suggest that calling for marijuana legalization is a winning issue with American voters. Nearly 60 percent of Americans said they supported legalizing marijuana in a Fox News Poll released a year ago.
The country’s previous two presidents, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush, both admitted to smoking marijuana.
While President Trump has not acknowledged smoking pot, his administration’s tough stance on the drug may be easing. A year ago, under the leadership of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department rescinded Obama administration guidance allowing states to legalize pot without the threat of federal interference.
But Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions – William Bar – has indicated he won’t continue to enforce the crackdown implemented by Sessions.