Kamala Harris backs Booker bill to legalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition Man indicted for threatening Bernie Sanders, March for Our Lives protesters MORE (D-Calif.), a potential 2020 White House contender, is joining Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition MORE (D-N.J.), who is also speculated to be a possible presidential candidate, in the fight to legalize marijuana under federal law.

Harris announced Thursday that she will be co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act, which Booker introduced in August.

The legislation would eliminate marijuana's status as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act. The move would also require federal courts to expunge the records of Americans who have prior marijuana convictions related to use or possession.

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“It’s the right thing to do. And I know this as a former prosecutor. I know it as a senator,” Harris said in a video announcing her decision with NowThis. “I just look at what we want as a country and where we need to be instead of where we’ve been.

“African-Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rate as whites but are approximately four times more likely to be arrested for possession,” Harris said. “The fact is marijuana laws are not applied and enforced the same way for all people.” 

Harris believes the move to decriminalize marijuana will prevent the Justice Department from enforcing laws that are “unjust and unfair.”

“The war on drugs was a war on communities,” Harris said, adding that police should be dealing with more serious drugs and crimes. “Not somebody smoking a joint.”

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCongress must confront sexual abuse of military children The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition MORE (D-N.Y.) in February announced that she would co-sponsor the act with Booker. Gillibrand is also considered to be a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, as is Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders If Congress takes no action, the Social Security trust fund will become depleted in 2034 Ex-campaign manager: Sanders is still eying another presidential bid DNC chair backing plan to cut superdelegates opposed by Dem lawmakers MORE (I-Vt.), who backs the bill as well.

So far, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the drug for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Michigan will hold a vote to legalize recreational pot this year, potentially making it the 10th state and first in the Midwest to legalize.