Harris: You'd better believe I inhaled when I smoked pot

Narrator: So did Bill Clinton. Nearly thirty years ago, the first Baby Boomer president tried to sidestep the question of marijuana use. Now pot has become so mainstream that Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris laughingly embraced it while calling for full legalization. In an interview on the syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club, Harris responded to a question about her commitment to legalization by replying, “Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me?”

And yes, she did inhale … “a long time ago”:


“That’s not true. Look, I joke about it, I have joked about it. Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me,” she said, laughing.

Harris was then asked whether she had tried marijuana.

I have. And I inhaled. I did inhale,” she responded. “It was a long time ago but yes. I just broke news.” Harris then confirmed that she smoked weed in college and that “it was a joint.”

Asked whether she would smoke again, if it was legal, Harris said: “I think that it gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy.”

Perhaps this isn’t much of a watershed moment on marijuana, though. Harris seems intent on letting everyone know that it happened decades earlier in college, the same life stage in which Clinton claimed to have toked a joint without inhaling. When will we see a major-party candidate admit to toking up in the recent past? After all, if one really wants to make a case for full and national legalization, he or she would have to testify to its benign impacts on current use, not just that there’s no effects 30 years after smoking a blunt.

The topic came up as part of a more serious discussion on Harris’ authentic blackness. Apparently, Harris’ life experience has prompted questions about her lived experiences (as opposed to, say, Cory Booker), and social media trolls have criticized her marriage to a white man. Harris shut that down pretty quickly:

“I think they don’t understand who black people are,” Harris replied. “I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are. Because right now, frankly, I’m focused on, for example, an initiative that I have that is called the ‘LIFT Act’ that is about lifting folks out of poverty,” she said, detailing her plan for a $6,000 tax credit for middle class Americans.

“I’m black, and I’m proud of being black,” she said at a later point in the interview. “I was born black. I will die black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.” …

The junior senator from California was also asked about criticism she has faced on social media for marrying a white man.

“Look, I love my husband, and he happened to be the one that I chose to marry, because I love him—and that was that moment in time, and that’s it,” Harris said. “And he loves me,” she added laughing.

Chalk that one up to people having too much time on their hands. Harris is the most intersectional candidate the Democrats could possibly field in the 2020 election. Any questions about her place in the Identity Politics Sweepstakes will fade quickly — and if she wins the nomination, will evaporate immediately among all the constituencies. Attacking her over her choice of spouse is low even by today’s eroding standards of political discourse.

Speaking of “constituencies,” the New York Times suggests that Harris is pandering while trying to shield herself from criticism on her record as a prosecutor:

Now Ms. Harris is running for president as a “progressive prosecutor.” She says she sees no contradiction in the term, arguing that a tough prosecutor can also be a force for reforming the criminal-justice system. But already, mere weeks into her candidacy, she is facing a chorus of skepticism, especially from the left. The death penalty episode shows the tricky crosscurrents that she has had to weather — and that are likely to intensify as she tries to square that circle.

Harris may find out that a brief Senate career won’t cover for a lot of questionable calls during her time as California’s Attorney General. Not without a lot of “joy” from the ganja.