Biden and Harris Advocate No Jail for Marijuana, Despite Harris' Previous Convictions

 May 19, 2024

In recent policy shifts, the stance on marijuana usage in the United States has taken a significant turn.

According to Breitbart, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have firmly positioned themselves against incarceration for marijuana use or possession.

Such a stance by the administration echoes a broader movement towards reevaluating drug policies that have long dictated strict penalties. Vice President Kamala Harris, once a strict enforcer of drug laws during her tenure as San Francisco’s district attorney, has substantially revised her position on cannabis.

Progressive Shift in Federal Marijuana Policies

As part of these shifting attitudes, the Department of Justice recently announced marijuana's reclassification from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug. Schedule I drugs, a category that includes heroin and LSD, are deemed to have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The reclassification aims to reflect a changing consensus on marijuana.

"No one should be jailed for simply using or possessing marijuana," stated President Biden on the social media platform X. This comes in light of new federal guidelines that emphasize treatment and prevention over incarceration. Kamala Harris also voiced her support for these changes on X, promoting a more progressive approach to marijuana offenses.

Although Vice President Harris advocated against incarcerations for marijuana-related offenses, her past as San Francisco’s district attorney tells a different story. She oversaw the conviction of nearly 2,000 individuals for marijuana-related offenses during her tenure from 2004 to 2010.

Contrasting Past with Current Marijuana Stance

This marked inconsistency was spotlighted during a Democratic primary debate in 2019 by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who critiqued Harris’ prosecutorial record. Gabbard asserted that Harris had contributed significantly to the incarceration for marijuana violations, a point that has been a spot of contention in Harris' career.

Tulsi Gabbard during the debate expressed her concerns: "Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor, and that she’ll be a prosecutor president, but I’m deeply concerned about this record. Harris had ‘put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations’."

On reflecting upon her past actions, Harris admitted in a 2019 interview to having used marijuana herself, which further complicates her previous hard stance as a prosecutor. Notably, Harris has acknowledged her past actions and shifted towards support for significant reform in marijuana laws. She says, "No one should go to jail for smoking weed," and highlights, "We have pardoned tens of thousands of people with federal convictions for simple marijuana possession." This marked a pivotal movement in her approach from her days in San Francisco’s courtrooms.


The recent reclassification by the Department of Justice not only alters the legal framework surrounding marijuana but also signifies a shift in the national narrative about drug policy and criminal justice reform. The move may potentially lower penalties and ease restrictions on research and medical use.

The changes in classification and the administration's stance could also influence public opinion, potentially accelerating state-level reforms and decriminalization efforts across the nation. This represents a noteworthy pivot in the federal approach toward drug policy, aiming to rectify decades of stringent drug laws.

Finally, as President Biden and Vice President Harris promote a new era of drug policy that deemphasizes incarceration, it's crucial to continue monitoring the societal and legal impacts. Their administration’s current position on marijuana stands in stark contrast to the strict enforcement seen in previous decades, indicating a potentially transformative era in American drug policy reform.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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