11:00am July 19, 2010

Kamala Harris Against Legalizing Recreational Marijuana


San Franscisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is the Democratic nominee for California attorney general, is not in favor of allowing the sale of marijuana for adult recreational use.

That means Harris is against Proposition 19, a ballot measure that would control and tax the drug, as well as other San Francisco politicians.

Harris does support medical use of cannabis, a stance reflected in a 2005 statement on the DA’s Web site that Harris penned in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that state laws did not protect patients who use medical marijuana from federal prosecution:

“It is wrong to pursue policies that punish Americans who are sick and use small amounts of marijuana in private as prescribed by a doctor,” Harris wrote. “It is a much smarter use of law enforcement resources to focus on real threats to community safety, such the as trafficking and production of methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine. In my own life, I have had loved ones and close friends who relied on medical marijuana to relieve their suffering and even prolong their lives.”

But she draws the line at recreational sales, a campaign spokeswoman told the San Francisco Appeal:

“Harris said recreational sales would just create new headaches for a beleaguered system that needs to better regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and to assist nonviolent drug offenders.

“Harris said she supports medicinal marijuana – ‘I have personally known people who have benefited from its use’ – but that she thinks California needs consistent standards about ownership and operation of dispensaries and that legislation to bring state standards would be the most helpful.”

About the Author

Bridgette Outten
A Chicago native, Bridgette has been a journalist since she first wrote for her seventh grade newsletter. Today, that passion is just as strong. She has written for several newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Defender, the Marshall News-Messenger (Texas) and the Springfield News-Sun (Ohio).



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  1. Good action on this, Bridgette. Harris makes a cogent distinction here, is playing it very careful and clear. Unsaid here is that much of the recreational marijuana, particularly that sold on streets, is these days notoriously cheap and “unpure.” This is not your wholesome, roots “ganja.” There are a variety of vicious and cheap chemicals mixed into the “weed.” This has caused major headaches for both law enforcement and, primarily, urban health systems as chemicals such as PCP and phemaldehyde (the notorious “dippers”) are increasingly common in street-sold marijuana. Even folks purchasing marijuana on the street for medicinal purposes should beware. Harris may be hinting at this.

  2. Bridgette Outten

    Charles, thanks for your comment; that’s a good point. I’m sure there would have to be massive effort to police what actually goes into the marijuana before it’s sold. Now here’s my question…will illegal sellers of marijuana disappear if the drug was legalized? Considering the certain taxes and other regulations the grower/buyer are sure to face, would it be less hassle for them to buy/sell illegally anyway? And what would stop a smoker from tampering with marijuana in the way you’ve described after he’s purchased it legally? Whaddya think?

    I’m very interested to see whether the measure will pass.

  3. Kevin

    Bridgette: The burden and cost of testing should be on the legal seller and should be required. This already happens with Medical Cannabis.

    The real issue here is this: Should we continue to forever legally ruin the lives of people (about 1 million per year in the US) who choose to use this – the most benign of all inebriants rather than alcohol? I predict that alcohol use will go down if this measure should pass, and that would be a real benefit to all of us. Many, like me, use cannabis just for that reason. Why doesn’t anybody realize that Cannabis was one of the most widely doctor recommended substances in the 19th century and was available in hundreds of over-the-counter remedies, available at any drug store, even as the smoked version was being outlawed, until the early 40′s? The AMA was totally against outlawing cannabis until they were blackmailed into supporting the new laws. People with serious medical conditions have had their lives improve dramatically because they are finally able to use something that actually works in relieving their symptoms. Additionally, we are deprived of hundreds of products that are made of industrial hemp, and we are the ONLY country that does so? Incidentally, this last issue is the REAL reason why it was outlawed in the first place. Google it and you will see that this is the case.

    Everybody that wants to use cannabis already does so. In the Netherlands and Portugal, where cannabis was decriminalized, the usage actually went DOWN by a few percentage points. Why? Because it wasn’t “forbidden fruit” anymore. One Dutch official put it this way – “We have succeeded in making marijuana boring”.

    Prop. 19 will make things easier, not harder.

  4. Bridgette Outten

    Hey Kevin, thanks for weighing in! I invite you to stay tuned to the site because we will have more from both sides of the issue.

    Very interesting debate, indeed.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  5. [...] about Kamala Harris, the San Francisco d.a. now running for California’s top cop? You can count her out, even though she hails from a city where, arguably, it’s easier to grow pot than food [...]

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