Vice President Harris Leads Marijuana Reform Roundtable; Kentucky Governor Participates

Note: Marijuana remains illegal in Indiana.

Written from White House Press Pool notes:

WASHINGTON – March 17, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris chaired a roundtable discussion on marijuana reform Friday, emphasizing the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing long-awaited criminal justice reforms.

The session, held in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, saw Harris alongside Grammy-nominated artist Fat Joe and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. The discussion touched upon various aspects of marijuana policy, including policing, re-entry programs, and the urgent need for rescheduling the substance.

Fat Joe, serving as the moderator, opened the discussion, expressing his honor in facilitating the conversation. Harris, seated at the head of the table, underscored the administration’s efforts to enhance policing through initiatives such as a database for police misconduct and re-entry programming.

Harris highlighted the administration’s strides, including making Small Business Administration loans available to formerly incarcerated individuals and expanding Pell Grant opportunities. She emphasized the racial disparities evident in sentencing, particularly regarding substances like crack versus powder cocaine.

“I believe … nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed,” Harris declared, reflecting the need for urgent action on rescheduling marijuana. She criticized the current scheduling, which categorizes marijuana as dangerous as heroin and more perilous than fentanyl, calling it “absurd.”

“There’s much more work to do,” Harris concluded.

The White House supplemented the discussion with background information, detailing President Biden’s proactive approach to marijuana reform. This included blanket clemency for federal marijuana possession and urging governors to pardon state offenses, leading to thousands being impacted positively.

Moreover, the administration launched an independent administrative process to explore rescheduling marijuana. Harris herself has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform throughout her career, advocating for fair sentencing, re-entry programs, addressing gun violence, and police reform.

In her role as Vice President, Harris has continued to champion these causes. Her recent trip to Las Vegas saw the announcement of forthcoming Small Business Administration rules making those with criminal records eligible for loan programs. She has consistently pushed for fair sentencing, police accountability, and measures to address systemic injustices.

The roundtable underscores the administration’s commitment to tackling the complexities of marijuana reform and broader criminal justice issues, marking another step forward in their agenda to bring about meaningful change.

The conversation, scheduled for 1:25 PM ET, was live-streamed and available for public viewing at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Live.

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