It started with Bob Marley.
Asked about things she's a fan of, Joe Biden's VP pick Senator Kamala Harris said in 2019, "I'm particularly fond of Bob Marley."
That make sense: Harris' father is Jamaican.
It was a good start.
I've taken a lot of flack from cannabis activists, specifically those in California where Harris is from and was Attorney General from 2010-2016, for backing Harris' presidential run from the beginning.
Besides her love of Marley (and jazz), Harris is a cannabis advocate who sponsored the MORE Act, which would legalize it.
However, Harris is dragged down by a chorus of negativity from drug-law reformers who accuse her of opposing legalization and locking up thousands of cannabis users as DA of San Francisco from 1996-2003 and California AG.
Certainly her track record when it comes to cannabis isn't perfect. She opposed the Prop 19 legalization effort in 2010, calling it a "flawed public policy," and stood on the sidelines when Californians voted to legalize marijuana in 2016. People were arrested and convicted for pot under her watch.
At the July 31 debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said about Harris: "She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
Harris has used marijuana and is now solidly in favor of its legalization.
Regarding the 1,500 figure, it was actually slightly higher (1,870). But the fact is prison admissions for people convicted of felony cannabis offenses progressively declined under Harris' watch from 817 in 2011 to 137 in 2016. In a state of 38 million people, that is not a huge number of admissions. But agreed, one conviction for cannabis is too many and Harris' office did prosecute some people who simply sold or grew it.
I think Harris should apologize for this. She has not.
But consider the bigger picture. Harris has used marijuana and is now solidly in favor of its legalization. She likely will eventually sway Biden away from decriminalization and his calls for further research in favor of legalization.
Surely, some people will scoff at a former state and city prosecutor heading the legalization effort. They prefer to brand her as a cop, which she never was.
But others will see this as a breakthrough moment for America, with a half-Jamaican, half-South Asian woman on the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket. That's something to be proud of and hopefully will help lead Biden to victory over Donald Trump in November.