Vice President Kamala Harris Convenes Influential Voices for White House Cannabis Reform Dialogue

Vice President Kamala Harris is set to host an influential gathering at the White House, bringing together advocates, policymakers, and notable figures to discuss the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to reform cannabis policies and address the consequences of decades-long prohibition.

The highly anticipated meeting, scheduled for Friday, will feature a diverse array of guests, including Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a leading proponent of cannabis legalization in his state, and the five-time Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Fat Joe, one of the thousands of individuals who have benefited from the cannabis pardons granted by President Joseph Biden.

Vice President Harris Convenes a Roundtable Conversation about Marijuana Reform

The meeting comes on the heels of President Biden’s historic executive order in October 2022, which pardoned thousands of people with federal convictions for simple marijuana possession, underscoring the administration’s commitment to righting the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.

“President Biden and I have been clear: We must continue to change our nation’s approach to marijuana and reform the criminal justice system,” Vice President Harris stated in December. “As I have declared many times before, no one should be in prison simply for smoking weed. That is why we continue to call on Governors to join us in this long-overdue work.”

Among the attendees will be cannabis activist Chris Goldstein, a regional coordinator with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), who was previously convicted of a federal marijuana possession charge during a protest in Philadelphia. Goldstein expressed hope that the meeting would further raise awareness about the presidential pardon process and emphasize the need for comprehensive federal action, including the descheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Reform advocates and industry leaders have welcomed the news of this week’s White House roundtable discussion, calling for tangible progress beyond symbolic gestures. Sarah Gersten, executive director and general counsel at the Last Prisoner Project, urged President Biden to take bolder action by utilizing his executive powers to free the over 3,000 federal cannabis prisoners.

As the nation grapples with the consequences of decades of failed drug policies, this high-profile gathering at the White House signals the Biden administration’s commitment to driving meaningful reform and addressing the disproportionate impact of current policies on communities of color.


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