Donna Shalala, a former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary and current Democratic candidate for a Florida US House District, has a message for her would-be constituents: Rescheduling marijuana is now a priority for her.
On Friday, Shalala announced via Twitter that she believes marijuana should be removed from the Controlled Substance Act.
Minorities and people of lower-income are 10 times more likely to be arrested for nonviolent marijuana offenses. Decriminalizing marijuana shouldn’t just be a policy priority—but a moral imperative. Stand with me in this fight for progressive justice: https://t.co/Qq9eB2DAmk
— Donna E. Shalala (@DonnaShalala) April 20, 2018
Shalala was a long-time opponent to cannabis reform while serving as President Bill Clinton’s Health and Human Services secretary. As head of HHS, she routinely issued dire warnings over cannabis use and condemned states that ignored federal guidance to establish their own marijuana laws.
After Arizona and California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, Shalala expressed the Clinton Administration’s deep concern and lamented that “marijuana is dangerous, it’s illegal and it’s wrong.”
More than two decades later, Shalala’s pro-pot tweet and the unfortunate facts she shared have been true since Harry J. Anslinger first began demonizing the therapeutic plant and those who consume it.
“Minorities and people of lower-income are 10 times more likely to be arrested for nonviolent marijuana offenses. Decriminalizing marijuana shouldn’t just be a policy priority—but a moral imperative. Stand with me in this fight for progressive justice,” she tweeted on April 20, 2018, to promote the website for her congressional campaign. She is running in the 27th District in the Miami area for the office to succeed the retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
In 2014, when Florida was considering a medical cannabis amendment – the one-time secretary of Health and Human Services suggested the Democratic party should avoid getting involved in “public health” policy.
Political opportunism or a change of heart, either way, Shalala now finds herself embracing decriminalization. According to Shalala’s website, she has committed to “remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act and crackdown law enforcement that disproportionately targets racial minorities.”
Has she seen the light or is she looking for a new career path? Only time will tell.