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VP Kamala Harris Trashes Marijuana ‘Gateway Drug’ Theory, But Says She Won’t Use Strain Named After Her

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Vice President Kamala Harris is shocked to learn there’s a strain of marijuana named after her, but she’s not planning to try it anytime soon. However, that’s not because she believes its a “gateway drug”—a long-held theory that she pushed back against in a new interview.

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday, Harris also seemed to overstate how the administration’s move to reschedule cannabis would impact criminal justice and the resulting availability of resources for other priorities.

“I think we both agree that people shouldn’t have to go to jail for smoking weed,” the vice president said, earning applause. “And we’ve pardoned a number of people.”

“You know, I think it’s interesting also because, remember, there was a time when people would say, ‘well, marijuana is a gateway drug,’ and these were failed policies,” she said. “The resources should be better directed—and will be better directed—to deal with opioid addiction and what we need to do around fentanyl, getting more resources into mental health and mental health care.”

Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), as the Justice Department has formally proposed, would not legalize cannabis, so it’s unclear how that reclassification would directly lead to the reallocation of resources as the vice president suggested.

Harris has previously faced criticism for inflating the impact of the administration’s marijuana actions, including when she said in February that she and President Joe Biden had already “changed federal marijuana policy.” At the time, a rescheduling decision hadn’t even been made.

She’s not the only administration official to exaggerate the impact of rescheduling since the decision was handed down. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Rahul Gupta has incorrectly claimed the reform would address the “racial disparity” in cannabis enforcement and make cannabis available via prescription.

Biden, for his part, recently corrected the record by acknowledging that his marijuana pardons did not expunge records, as he’s mistakenly said in the past.

On a lighter note, Harris seemed pleasantly surprised to learn during the Kimmel interview that there’s a cannabis variety called Kamala Kush.

“Really? Seriously? I did not know that,” she said, laughing. Kimmel said it was “outrageous” that she hasn’t been gifted some of the product named after her, but Harris said she’s “not touching that.”

The Biden-Harris administration has increasingly leaned into its cannabis actions in the lead-up to the November election. For example, Harris met with marijuana pardon recipients for a roundtable event at the White House in March, where she said behind closed doors that “we need to legalize marijuana.”

Meanwhile, the proposed rule to federally reschedule marijuana was officially posted last month, kicking off a public comment period that’s expected to elicit a major response from supporters and opponents of cannabis reform.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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