Legal marijuana is ‘inevitable,’ says California attorney general

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. (Reuters/David McNew)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris may have won re-election in the state last month by beating the pro-weed Republican candidate Ron Gold, but recently she said she has no “moral opposition” to marijuana and is “not opposed” to legalizing the drug.

In fact, Harris said she thinks the idea of legalizing the drug has a “certain inevitability” about it. She didn’t go as far as endorsing legalization, though, adding that she does have concerns over the law enforcement implications of legalization.

"I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I'm the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective,” Harris told Buzzfeed News in an interview. “I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized.”

READ MORE:Colorado edible marijuana task group stalls over ‘clearly identifiable’ labels

Of course, Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but the idea has been gaining traction in other states as well. During the recent midterm elections, voters in Oregon approved a measure to allow adults over 21 to possess, manufacture and sell pot, while Alaskan voters chose to allow it to be regulated like alcohol with a state board. Nearly 70 percent of voters in Washington, DC, meanwhile, chose to legalize the possession of two ounces of marijuana for adults over 21, as well as the cultivation of plants at home.

AFP Photo/Ivan Couronne

In California, advocates are hoping to place a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996, but recreational use is still prohibited.

“We're watching it happen right before our eyes in Colorado and Washington. I don't think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said to Buzzfeed. “I think there's certain inevitability about it."

She added that the details of legalization matter and points to the debate underway in Colorado about a system for edibles.

READ MORE:Aim High: Marijuana legalization puts US military in a pickle

“There are real issues for law enforcement, [such as] how you will measure someone being under the influence in terms of impairment to drive,” Harris said. “We have seen in the history of this issue for California and other states; if we don’t figure out the details for how it’s going to be legalized the feds are gonna come in, and I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest.”

In Colorado, government officials have considered a ban on edible marijuana products currently sold on the market, though the proposal was quickly disavowed recently by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment after much backlash. Last month, the Denver Police Department released a public service announcement around Halloween warning parents to keep an eye out for pot-infused treats.

This week, the task group debating the labeling of marijuana-infused products failed to reach a consensus during its final meeting. Instead, regulators have decided to send lawmakers several proposals, meaning the final decision will be made by the state legislature.