“I’ve smoked cigarettes and weed,” says San Diego-based reverend Shane Harris. “When cannabis is done right – organically – it’s better than smoking cigarettes. I smoked weed all the way to my 17th birthday, so I understand more so today why people smoke marijuana: to combat their illnesses, to medicate.” People need to understand the fact that different opinions are okay, he says.
When a man was shot in El Cajon, California for brandishing a vape pen, Mr. Harris appeared in local and national media condemning the officer involved shooting. His support of Proposition 64 is closely linked to his support of Proposition 57, which seeks the release of thousands of nonviolent offenders.
“Most people with nonviolent minor offenses are those that had been caught with marijuana,” Mr. Harris said. “And the way we help this problem is to stop putting people away for long periods of time for nonviolent minor offenses.” He doesn’t see Prop 64 as merely legalizing marijuana, but, rather, regulating the plant – a win for youth safety.
“The regulations will stipulate that nobody under 21 can legally smoke weed, driving while under the influence is still illegal” Mr. Harris said. “Prop 64 is an opportunity to encourage freedom. People have freedom to smoke cigarettes, people should have the freedom to smoke their own homegrown marijuana, as long as it’s within the legal restrictions.” He notes that minorities are six times more likely to be incarcerated when stopped.
“Long prison sentences are wrong and we have to use our voice on this,” Mr. Harris said. “People should not be serving long prison sentences. The way we stop mass incarceration is by passing something like prop 64.”
Mr. Harris admits he’s not popular among other pastors. They also stood against him when he stood up for LGBT rights.
“Prop 64 concerns the clergy,” he laments. “There is a miseducation in the churches. A church I spoke with was filled with people who believed Prop 57 would be a big release of people who have raped women. I had to explain what nonviolent minor offenses are.” He had to also explain that prop 57 particularly means people merely get a chance to face the parole board. He also supports youth not being tried as adults, as 57 proposes. He says pastors are clueless on 64, as well.
“It’s not about legalizing marijuana,” he says. “It’s about regulating it. A lot of clergy is unhappy about me coming out in support of these bills.”
That won’t stop Mr. Harris from supporting them. “They are good for people,” he said. Mainstream conservative media and conservatives try to sell the message that all these kinds of propositions are stripping Christians of their values. But, Jesus represented freedom. He was pro-choice.”
Image Source: NBC News