Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said people convicted of felonies for selling marijuana should be given priority consideration for jobs in the booming legal marijuana industry, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate whose campaign is struggling, may be trying to compensate for her background as a prosecutor in California. Approximately 2,000 people were jailed for marijuana offenses while she was California's attorney general.
"I am a proponent of legal marijuana," Harris said. "And I'm also a proponent of saying, you know what, all those people who were arrested and are now felons for life, and now we're looking at many states — including my home state — that has legalized marijuana and is now one of the biggest cash cow industries in America ... let's expunge their records and put them first in line to get the jobs in this new industry."
In Harris's mind, having illegally sold marijuana in the past is directly transferable work experience for working in the legal cannabis industry.
"There's no difference," Harris said. "The people who are making now a whole lot of money, what are they doing? Selling weed. Before this happened, what were those folks doing? Selling weed. When you're looking for a job, experience needed, they've got experience."
Acknowledging the problems with creating a massive legal industry for a product many people are in prison for having possessed or sold, Harris's position here is, at the very least, an immense oversimplification of what it might take to right that wrong. It's also not clear what being "first in line" would entail, or who would be responsible for managing and enforcing that policy.
Additionally the proposal raises questions about whether it would be right to prioritize people with drug convictions over other qualified candidates who have no criminal history.
Harris probably won't have to answer these questions, as reports indicate her campaign is unraveling. Once considered a frontrunner, she is now polling in the same range as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who entered the race late last month and is just pouring millions into television advertising to gain support.