WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kamala Harris said Monday that she is in favor of legalizing marijuana at the federal level, pushing back against detractors in her own party who say she has a history of being too aggressive on drug offenders.
The California Democrat is running for president in 2020 and is widely considered a front-runner for the party's nomination.
The former California attorney general has been hammered by liberals in her party for declining to support Proposition 64, a state ballot measure passed in 2016 to legalize the drug.
"Half my family's from Jamaica, are you kidding me?" Harris said in an interview Monday with nationally syndicated radio show "The Breakfast Club."
She previously signaled her newfound support for legalizing marijuana in her recent book, "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey."
"Something else it's past time we get done is dismantling the failed war on drugs -- starting with legalizing marijuana," Harris wrote in the book, which was released in January.
"We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it," Harris wrote, highlighting the disproportionate incarceration of minorities for cannabis offenses. "We need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives."
In her interview with "The Breakfast Club," Harris said she smoked a joint in college and, in a dig at President Bill Clinton, said she "inhaled."
In 1992, Clinton admitted to smoking the drug when he was in college but said that he had not inhaled, implying it did not count.
The hosts of the radio show asked Harris if she would smoke again if recreational marijuana was legalized at the federal level.
"Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy," she said.
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