Things That Matter

Kamala Harris Pledges That, If Elected, She and Joe Biden Would Decriminalize Marijuana Use

On Monday, Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris vowed that a Biden-Harris administration would “decriminalize” the use of marijuana.

“Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge all marijuana-use convictions, and end incarceration for drug use alone,” Harris said during a Facebook Live virtual round-table.

“We need to deal with the system, and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system,” she continued.

The decriminalization of marijuana would be a boon for cannabis-rights activists who have long said that marijuana’s potential health risks “pale in comparison” to the harm that criminalization has done to communities of color in America.

We’ve known for a while that the U.S.’s drug policies disproportionately affect people of color. While the stats suggest that Americans across all demographics use marijuana at roughly the same rate, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be arrested and charged for possession.

For example, in New York City in 2017, the NYPD arrested 17,000 people for marijuana-related offenses. 86% of those were Black or Latino.

via Getty Images

Historically, politicians on both the left and the right haven’t done much to fix this disparity. Although both Republicans and Democrats were responsible for the largely ineffective “War On Drugs” policies of the ’90s that left a large number of people of color incarcerated, the Dems have recently changed their tune.

In the ’90s, there was an erroneous belief that marijuana was a “gateway” drug to harder, more destructive drugs, like crack-cocaine. Cracking down on marijuana possession was seen as a preventative tactic to keep people from trying crack.

The decriminalization of marijuana would be a marked change for Biden in particular who has held quite stringent anti-marijuana positions throughout his career.

“The school of thought was that we had to do everything we could to dissuade the use of crack cocaine,” Biden said in 2008 Senate hearing. “And so I am part of the problem that I have been trying to solve since then.”

This falls in line with what Senator Harris’s policy stances have been of late. She recently spear-headed a bill called the MORE Act that, if passed according to Politico, would “remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and erase some cannabis criminal records”.

It’s worth noting that there is a marked distinction between the decriminalization of marijuana vs its legalization.

via Getty Images

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, decriminalization means “no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption”. In essence, a marijuana-related offense would be treated similarly to a traffic violation.

Legalization, on the other hand, would mean a federal policy that “supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source.”

Whether it’s decriminalization or legalization, one thing’s for sure: the data shows that hyper-punitive laws towards cannabis possession has done the American people more harm than good. Especially in communities of color.

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Latino Twitter Gifted The World With These Seriously Good Inauguration Memes

Things That Matter

Latino Twitter Gifted The World With These Seriously Good Inauguration Memes

Google/NBC

It’s official: the United States has a new president! Yesterday was Inauguration Day in the U.S. and we welcomed Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President.

It was an historic day full of major milestones for the country and the world – and that was made obvious by the sheer amount of attention paid to the day’s events. One has to look no further than the amount of memes that were produced in the wake of the inauguration, from Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga to Bernie Sanders and the adiós to Donald and Melania Trump.

As usual, Latino Twitter showed up with the memes and left many of us on the floor laughing our a** off. These are some of the honorable mentions from a day full of historical moments and incredible memes.

Tío Bernie may have stolen the spotlight from President Biden with his very practical inauguration attire.

The long-serving Vermont senator was there to watch proceedings, bracing the D.C. cold to witness Biden being sworn in as president. To withstand the cold climes, Sanders came prepared in a big old reliable coat and mittens – with his inaugural look and general demeanour waiting for the event to begin capturing the creativity of the internet through a series of ‘Cold Bernie’ memes.

Bernie was everywhere!

The former presidential candidate was popping up in all sorts of places as the Internet memed him into a frenzy.

And he was all of us…

The former aspiring presidential candidate later addressed the attention his outfit was getting in an interview with Gayle King, noting: ‘You know in Vermont we know something about the cold and are not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm and that’s what I did today.’

The Internet has even created a website where you can insert Tío Bernie into any scene you want with Google Maps.

And yes, it actually works!

Michelle Obama told us all how she felt without telling us all how she felt.

When Michelle and Barack Obama departed the White House in 2017 to make way for Donald and Melania Trump to take over the reigns, Michelle did not hide how difficult and upsetting she found the moment. So a lot of people were thrilled to see the Michelle we know and love, happy, thrilled and generally paving the way at the 2021 inauguration ceremony.

Lady Gaga giving the world Hunger Games vibes…

Lady Gaga had the honour of performing the American national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and, of course, she ‘killed’ it. The dramatic and rousing performance was made even better by her custom-made Schiaparelli gown, adorned in the US colours and complete with patriotic hidden meanings. However some thought they’d seen it – particularly the brooch – before…

Then there were the adiós Trump memes that left Mexican Twitter on fire!

A la verga! Adiós, Señor Trump! 👋

This one is too good!

I. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

Mexican Facebook was also on fire!

This Twitter user is too right, Mexican Facebook really is undefeated!

And some want to reclaim red hats!

If you could bring back red hats, what would yours say?

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President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

Things That Matter

President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in as the 46th president and the 49th vice president of the United States of America. The new administration has been sworn in and the inauguration was a beautiful representation of America with people of color and women taking center stage.

Lady Gaga kicked off the 59th inauguration by singing the national anthem.

In 2017, Lady Gaga famously participated in the Women’s March the day after former President Trump’s inauguration. Four years later, the singer proudly took to the Capitol to usher in the beginning of the Biden/Harris administration. Dressed in custom Schiaparelli, Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and left people speechless.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

This was a special moment. The first Latina to ever serve on the Supreme Court was the one to swear in the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian vice president. It was a historical moment that will forever change the United States.

Justice Sotomayor has made a name for herself in American pop culture because of her blistering dissents. As the first Latina on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor opened possibilities for Latinas. We basically watched one icon swear in another icon and it is everything.

The most exciting moment of the inauguration might have been Jennifer Lopez and her remix of an American classic.

Lopez sang “This Land Is Your Land” but added a special twist. During the song, Lopez stops and says, “Una nacion, bajo de dios, indivisible con libertad y justicia para todos.” Translated, she said, “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” That’s right. The Puerto Rican pop superstar used her moment at the nation’s Capitol building to give a shout out to all the Latinos who call the U.S. home.

Of course, the most iconic moment was J.Lo shouting “Let’s get loud.”

We all know that song. We are all singing it now after reading those three words. It was truly one of the most impactful moments of her performance. Only an icon could turn “This Land is Your Land” into a greatest hits medley. We are all better for having witnessed it.

However, it was 22-year-old Amanda Gorman that stole the entire show.

The Youth Poet Laureate was chosen to speak at the inauguration and she youngest inaugural poet of all time. She joins the impressive ranks of Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco, and Elizabeth Alexander. Her poem, written right after the Capitol riot. It was relevant, poignant, and moving.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.”

And, of course, Joseph Robinette Biden became the 46th president of the United States of America.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country,” President Biden said. “It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

“The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity.”

Welcome to the White House President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

READ: The TikToker Who Put Fleetwood Mac Back On The Charts Will Perform At The Inauguration’s Virtual Parade

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