Kamala Harris Says Convicted Drug Dealers Should Have 'First Dibs' On Legal Marijuana Jobs
“They were ahead of the curve!”
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently doubled down on her support for the decriminalization of marijuana and spoke about how she would eliminate racial bias in the growing industry.
As HuffPost reports, Sen. Harris believes progress begins with federally legalizing the sale of weed and implementing policies that will place previously convicted drug dealers "first in line" for the jobs.
Harris made these comments while speaking at the nation's first She the People forum, a network created by and for women of color in politics. The Indian American senator from California reportedly had the most clear stance on the topic.
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“Apparently a lot of the people who historically were arrested for marijuana sales were young men, young men of color. Isn’t that the irony of it all?" Harris said. "This is one of the fastest-growing money-making industries in our country and the very young men who were trying to make money doing the same thing got criminalized... branded felons for life [and] are excluded from the economic opportunities that are now available because of this new industry.”
In states like Washington, California and Colorado where legalization of marijuana has boomed to a billion-dollar industry, convicted marijuana dealers remain banned from growing and selling the plant, even following permittance of recreational use.
The former California attorney general advocated for policies that would place these non-violent felons in the position to capitalize off of this economic boost the most.
“Some of those young men should be first in line to get the jobs that are available and their felony convictions should not be a barrier for employment in an industry they were a part of before it was an industry," she said. "They were ahead of the curve!”
As the marijuana industry continues to grow, there are people of color sitting behind bars for doing the exact same thing. It's time we changed the system. #SheThePeople2020 pic.twitter.com/7KotnCqihx— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 24, 2019
Statistically, Black people have been convicted of marijuana possession at a disproportionate rate four times higher than white persons in America, although both groups consume the drug at equal rates.
Speaking on drug abuse, Harris added that the "lack of mental health resources" has contributed to the epidemic, stating that much of it begins as "self-medication."
“There are a lot of folks who have been incarcerated who should not be in prison,” she added.
Harris was warmly received by the crowd of 1,700 persons, predominantly comprised of women of color.
She joined other Democratic 2020 presidential race participants including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and former Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke for the Texas Southern University event.
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