Speed Reads

times have changed

Kamala Harris once laughed at weed legalization. Now she's proposing to erase old weed-related convictions.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 presidential candidate, has continued to shift away from her past as a tough-on-crime prosecutor in San Francisco.

Harris and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), are introducing legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. That's pretty standard in Democratic circles these days, but the new bill would also expunge old convictions related to marijuana charges. Convictions for sales to minors would not be stricken from the record.

"Despite the legalization of marijuana in states across the country, those with criminal convictions for marijuana still face second class citizenship," Nadler said in a statement. "Their vote, access to education, employment, and housing are all negatively impacted. Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionally impacted communities of color."

Harris' changing tune on drug offenses has not escaped the notice of critics, however. Forbes reported that Harris once laughed when asked about her Republican attorney general's support for marijuana legalization in 2014 and she did not back a 2010 California measure that would have led to marijuana legalization in the state. Of course, Harris is not the first presidential candidate to evolve with the times — and, hey, she even freely admitted that she partook herself as an undergraduate.

"As a former prosecutor who did not endorse legalization in California, this is an opportunity for her to establish a new stance on this subject," University of Denver's marijuana policy expert Sam Kamin said.

Read more about Harris' evolving views on crime here at The Week.