States with poor climate policy ‘overlap’ with those seeking to limit rights, Kamala Harris says
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has emerged as a key member of a group of Democratic senators with a desire to reduce the power of businesses over Americans’ lives. Harris in a new report called on Congress to “stand up to the pharmaceutical industry” while rejecting efforts to limit medical cannabis access and protections for transgender women of color.
Harris’ comments are the most recent sign the group exists and could prove to be a catalyst for a debate on Capitol Hill on broader policy issues. The group, known as the Health Reform Caucus, includes Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., all of whom have shown interest in passing or strengthening federal marijuana laws.
For her part, Harris said in a statement announcing the report that lawmakers must come together to ensure medical marijuana is available. The caucus, she said, is “concerned about the drug war, as it disproportionately impacts communities of color, and especially communities of color with regard to access to affordable and safe medicine.”
“When it comes to the issue of medical marijuana, we believe the voices of communities of color should be heard,” she said in a statement. “We, as a caucus, need to come together and put a voice to our shared values that will guide the debate on medical marijuana regulations.”
Harris, who has taken a relatively hardline position on marijuana policy in the House, also pointed out that lawmakers should work toward ensuring the right to self-medicate access, rather than simply preventing the sale of drugs with dangerous side effects.
“We need to be thoughtful and deliberate in our approach to medical marijuana, as the opioid crisis has seen in our own communities,” she said in a statement.
The report comes as the House Judiciary Committee takes up the Cole bill, a bill which would create a new drug trafficking statute that would make it easier for federal prosecutors to go after those trying to sell cannabis to those with a medical need. Republican committee leaders have said they want to strip out the Cole proposal from the bill, calling it “draconian.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also been active in the marijuana policy conversation.