marijuana, White House, Kamala Harris, Fat Joe

Vice President Kamala Harris Challenges ‘Absurd’ Scheduling Of Marijuana At White House Roundtable, Joined By Rapper Fat Joe

Marijuana, despite having an approved medicinal use, is deemed more dangerous than heroin, under current scheduling.

Vice President Kamala Harris called attention to what she said is the absurdity of the scheduling of marijuana at a White House roundtable on March 15. As CNN reported, Harris noted that the fact that marijuana is scheduled as a more dangerous drug than fentanyl, the class of opioids currently at the center of a renewed overdose crisis, doesn’t make sense.

“Marijuana is considered as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than fentanyl, which is absurd, not to mention patently unfair,” Harris said. “I’m sure DEA is working as quickly as possible and will continue to do so and we look forward to the product of their work.”

Harris, who met with rapper Fat Joe and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, along with individuals who have received pardons for marijuana-related convictions at the roundtable, alluded to the role she played as a prosecutor in putting people behind bars for marijuana-related offenses.

“I believe that the promise of America includes equal justice under the law. And for too many, our criminal justice system has failed to live up to that core principle.”

Harris continued, “And I say that with full knowledge of how this system has worked, including my experience as a prosecutor. I believe – I think we all at this table believe – nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed.”

She concluded, “And what we need to do is recognize that far too many people have been sent to jail for simple marijuana possession.”

The Biden-Harris administration has been pushing for the rescheduling of marijuana since 2022 when President Joe Biden pardoned federal offenses for basic marijuana possession and instructed state governors to follow his lead. He also requested U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to start the administrative review of how marijuana is scheduled.

Despite having an approved medicinal use, marijuana is deemed more dangerous than heroin under the current scheduling.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Vice President Harris’s declaration represents a significant policy shift for her, and the paper declared that she owes the public an explanation of how she arrived at that conclusion.

According to NPR, the HHS has finished its administrative review as of 2023, but the DEA has not. This seems to have frustrated Harris as the rescheduling of marijuana was one of Biden’s key campaign promises. 

Harris remarked on March 15, “I cannot emphasize enough that they need to get to it as quickly as possible, and we need to have a resolution based on their findings and their assessment.”

A New Jersey-based marijuana advocate, Chris Goldstein, was at the roundtable and he told Marijuana Moment that hearing Vice President Harris’s call for action meant something to him. Goldstein also told the outlet that though Harris’s call for legalization was not recorded by the media because it happened during the closed-door session, that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. 

“Saying those words out loud—saying it in the Roosevelt Room—it did feel very meaningful,” Goldstein said. ”The greatest thing about the meeting today was it did not feel like a one-time event. Everything about today—and there were some words expressed about doing more things like this—the White House wants to engage on this policy consistently. That’s clemency, criminal justice, marijuana legalization.”

Goldstein added, “They want to be right in it, and right now the White House has an important role to play and they’re doing it.”

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