Vice President Harris and Rapper Fat Joe Discuss Easing Marijuana Penalties

Vice President Harris, rapper Fat Joe team up for discussion on easing marijuana penalties

Vice President Kamala Harris and rapper Fat Joe took center stage at the White House on Friday, leading discussions on the urgent need to reform marijuana penalties. Harris voiced her strong opposition to the federal government’s classification of marijuana, calling it “absurd” that it’s deemed more dangerous than fentanyl, a synthetic opioid responsible for thousands of deaths annually in the United States.

As a former state prosecutor in California, Harris criticized the current federal stance on cannabis, labeling it as “patently unfair.” She urged for a swift resolution in the ongoing review of marijuana classification, emphasizing the importance of conclusions drawn by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice.

Fat Joe, known formally as Joseph Cartagena, moderated a subsequent closed-door session, joined by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and individuals who had received pardons for past marijuana convictions.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been proactive in addressing marijuana-related offenses, with thousands pardoned for federal possession and long sentences commuted for nonviolent drug crimes. Biden’s call for governors to pardon state-level offenses in 2022 prompted Beshear to invite individuals convicted of simple marijuana possession to seek pardons in Kentucky.

Vice President Harris
Vice President Harris (Credits: The Daily Gazette)

Public opinion on marijuana legalization is overwhelmingly supportive, with seven in 10 U.S. adults in favor, according to Gallup polling. Particularly among 18- to 34-year-olds, support is even higher, a demographic that has shown some softening in support for Biden since his inauguration.

During the meeting, Harris stressed the urgency of the review process and underscored the disparity in classification, noting that marijuana is currently regarded as equally dangerous as heroin. She expressed anticipation for the outcomes of the DEA’s work in reevaluating marijuana’s scheduling.

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, remains a significant public health concern, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths annually in America. Efforts are underway to reclassify marijuana, potentially shifting it from Schedule I to the less restrictive Schedule III, acknowledging its potential medical benefits.

Biden highlighted the marijuana classification review in his recent State of the Union address, reiterating his stance that no one should face incarceration for marijuana-related offenses. He emphasized the importance of expunging records for individuals solely charged with marijuana use.

Fat Joe initiated the roundtable discussion by expressing his commitment to healthcare price transparency but redirected his focus when called upon by the vice president. However, Harris intervened, reminding him to wait as she had an opening statement to deliver.

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