Vice President Kamala Harris was accused of hypocrisy after she condemned Brittney Griner’s conviction by Russia on marijuana-trafficking charges — despite Harris prosecuting thousands of similar marijuana possession cases in her previous career as a prosecutor.
Grinner, 31, was sentenced on Thursday to nine years in prison after she admitted bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country. The WNBA star said she had been prescribed the oil to relieve pain related to her chronic injuries and had accidentally packed it in her luggage.
The verdict was met with universal condemnation from US diplomats and officials, led by President Biden, who called the sentence “unacceptable” and demanded that Russia release both Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, “immediately.”
Harris issued a separate statement on Twitter condemning Griner’s sentence.
“With today’s sentencing, Russia continues its wrongful detention of Brittney Griner. She should be released immediately,” Harris wrote. “@POTUS and I, and our entire administration, are working every day to reunite Brittney, as well as Paul Whelan, with loved ones , who miss each of them very much.”
But Harris’ many critics were quick to point out that while serving as both San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general, she oversaw thousands of marijuana-related prosecutions and was an outspoken critic of pot legalization, as the Daily Mail first reported.
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“Brittney Griner got 9 years for drug possession in Russia… which sounds like most of the sentences Kamala Harris got for the same thing when she was California Attorney General.” Author Tim Young tweeted.
Another commenter wrote: “LMAO didn’t you lock up like a bunch of people for weed? Then bragged about it and proceeded to say you smoked weed in college and listened to Tupac and grab before they cut their first album?”
A third chimed in: “You locked people up for possession of marijuana. And you only condemn this because the US can’t profit from her imprisonment in Russia.”
San Jose The Mercury News reported in 2019 that during Harris’ tenure as San Francisco’s top prosecutor between 2004-2010, her office handled more than 1,900 marijuana convictions — although it has been pointed out that most of those arrested for low-level possession were spared jail time, and only a few dozen were imprisoned.
Harris was elected the Golden State’s attorney general in 2011 and had an additional 1,970 people locked up for marijuana offenses on her watch, according to a study by the Washington Free Beacona conservative publication.
Harris also vocally opposed California’s marijuana ballot legalization initiative, which ultimately passed in 2016.
She first supported legalization around 2018 and even supported a bill that would have removed cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, Forbes reported. She also wrote a book arguing for the decriminalization of cannabis.
By the time Harris radically changed her stance on marijuana, there was already talk of her running for president.
Harris famously sparred with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during a 2019 Democratic presidential debate after Gabbard brought up her record of throwing people in jail for possession of marijuana.
“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana offenses and then laughed it off when asked if she had ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said, referring to Harris’ interview with the radio show “The Breakfast Club.”
In that sitdown, the White House contender — and former accuser — admitted with a laugh that she had smoked marijuana in college, saying, “I have. And I inhaled — I inhaled. It was a long time ago. But yeah.”