Running to become California's top law enforcement officer, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said Tuesday that she supports regulating medicinal marijuana dispensaries but not allowing cannabis sale for recreational use.
Harris, meeting with The Bee's Capitol Bureau, said she does not support efforts by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, to permit marijuana to be sold and taxed much like liquor.
One of six Democratic candidates for attorney general, Harris said that recreational sales would just create new headaches for a beleaguered system that needs to better regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and to assist nonviolent drug offenders.
"This is just going to confuse everything even more," she said of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
Harris said she supports medicinal marijuana - "I have personally known people who have benefited from its use" - but that she thinks California needs consistent standards about ownership and operation of dispensaries.
"I think legislation is probably the best way to do it, because we want a state standard, that would be the most helpful," she said.
Harris is running in the Democratic primary against Assemblymen Ted Lieu of Torrance, Alberto Torrico of Newark, and Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara; Rocky Delgadillo, former Los Angeles city attorney; and Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer. Attorney Michael Schmier also is expected to enter the race but has not been active in fundraising.
On other issues:
Death penalty: "I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but I will follow the law. "
Three Strikes: Harris said that she could support a modification, but it is not a priority for her. "My policy, in my office, is that the third offense must be a serious or violent crime if we're going to seek a 25-year-to-life sentence."
Sentencing Commission: Harris said she would not push for creation of a state commission to revise sentencing laws. "I don't feel that that's the most compelling issue that we're facing right now."
Early Release: Harris said she did not support legislation last year that cut state expenses by releasing numerous nonviolent inmates from prison with little or no parole supervision. "I was against it because I didn't think there was a plan for what we would be doing after we released them."
Prisoner Rehabilitation: Harris said that improving programs to reduce recidivism would be a priority for her. She said the average prison sentence in California is two years, adding, "What that tells us is that (most inmates) are coming out. And we really do not have a meaningful criminal justice policy for dealing with that fact."
Social Networking: Harris supports legislation to crack down on sex offenders' use of Internet chat sites. "Just as we've created rules for our kids (about playgrounds), so too must we do that as it relates to social networking sites."
PHOTO CREDIT: San Francisco DA and attorney general candidate Kamala Harris in Sacramento today. Paul Kitagaki Jr./firstname.lastname@example.org