Vice President Kamala Harris, marking a notable departure from her earlier viewpoints, has recently advocated for the legalization of marijuana, a move that aligns with her collaboration with President Joe Biden since 2020. This pivot was brought to the fore during a White House gathering on Friday, where Harris met with individuals who had been pardoned for cannabis-related offenses. The timing of this meeting, as the November elections inch closer, suggests a strategic shift in policy direction.

During this significant gathering, Harris didn’t just stop at calling for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to expedite the reclassification of cannabis; she also made a bold plea for the cessation of marijuana prohibition. Her powerful remarks, made in the historic Roosevelt Room, struck a chord with those present, including veteran advocate Chris Goldstein, who deemed the Vice President’s stance as exceptionally impactful.

While Harris has been an advocate for marijuana legalization before sponsoring legislation and championing the cause during her time as a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate in 2020, her recent public statements as vice president have leaned more toward Biden’s stance on decriminalization and pardons for cannabis-related offenses.

The gathering, which featured figures like Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and rapper Fat Joe, underscored the administration’s dedication to addressing issues surrounding cannabis. Goldstein, who was present at the event, stressed the administration’s commitment to discussions about cannabis policies, such as clemency, reforming the criminal justice system, and efforts toward legalization.

CX5AQY brtT7 HBLXA7AyMOS lFRgDKWcWwoKEQQUm3mMdPtcDUYRAOgocF7ui e Tvb6AzPpvkmjsDHLJqxwwy f

Although Harris’s support for legalization was discussed privately, it marked a shift for the administration. Historically, neither Harris nor Biden has fully embraced the idea of ending the prohibition on cannabis. Despite Biden’s promises during his campaign to decriminalize marijuana and make reforms related to cannabis, tangible progress has been limited.

Nevertheless, steps have been taken by the administration toward reforming cannabis laws. This includes granting pardons to thousands of individuals convicted of cannabis possession charges and initiating a review of how marijuana is classified by federal agencies. During the meeting, Harris reiterated the urgency of reclassifying marijuana. She pointed out how its current classification alongside drugs like heroin is seen as absurd.

It is worth mentioning that reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III, as suggested by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), does not mean legalization. Harris acknowledged this during the meeting and stressed that further actions should be based on the agency’s findings and evaluations.

Factors including changing opinions and potential electoral consequences likely influence the administration’s focus on reforming cannabis laws. Recent surveys show that Biden’s approval ratings saw an increase after he highlighted the rescheduling of marijuana. Moreover, targeting voters who strongly back the legalization of cannabis could have an impact on the upcoming elections.

Nevertheless, there have been controversies surrounding the administration’s communication on cannabis policies. Biden’s recent errors regarding the extent of his pardons and the legal consequences for recipients have sparked concerns. Likewise, Harris’s video discussing changes to marijuana policies faced criticism for inaccuracies about state legalization statutes.

With the DEA reviewing the HHS recommendation and pressure mounting on the administration to fulfill its commitments, the future of reform is uncertain. However, Harris’s advocacy for legalization indicates a shift in how the administration approaches this issue, which affects both policy and politics.

The administration’s choices in handling the complexities of reform will influence marijuana policy trends in the years. Whether through orders, efforts, or broader societal shifts, there is growing momentum behind calls for cannabis legalization that offers optimism for progress and justice in future scenarios.