Yesterday retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that the federal government should legalize marijuana. That’s groundbreaking news. Below are a couple of press releases from two of my favorite reform organizations.
From my friends at the Marijuana Majority:
WASHINGTON, DC — Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that the federal government should follow the lead of states that have legalized marijuana.
“Yes,” Stevens replied when asked by NPR’s Scott Simon as to whether marijuana should be legalized under federal law. “I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.”
This makes Stevens the first-ever Supreme Court Justice to endorse legalizing marijuana.
“Justice Stevens is right. Public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “Polls now consistently show that a clear majority of the public supports ending prohibition and, as this trend continues, we’ll start to see more prominent people and politicians saying it’s time to change the laws.”
Audio of Stevens’s legalization remarks can be found at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/24/306524864/retired-justice-john-paul-stevens-marijuana-should-be-legal
Previously, Justice Stevens has said, “The use of mandatory minimum statutes has had a very adverse effect on the overall system” and has called it “most unwise” to prohibit the medical use of marijuana.
Marijuana Majority exists to help people understand that replacing marijuana prohibition with solutions like legalization, decriminalization and medical marijuana are mainstream, majority-support positions, and that no one who supports reform should be afraid to say so. More info at http://www.MarijuanaMajority.com.
From my friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:
In an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said he believed the federal government should follow Colorado and Washington’s lead and legalize marijuana.
“An increasing number of states are legalizing marijuana. Should federal law?” asked the reporter. “Yes,” replied the justice to a laughing Simon, who commented that “We may have just made some news.”
“I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed,” continued the Justice. “And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.”
“This is a man who dedicated his life to studying and protecting the Constitution. For 35 years he defined the law of the land. And he believes the law of the land should allow for the legalization of marijuana,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), adding “Does anyone have the Justice’s number? We’ll have to ask him to join LEAP.”
The parallels between the two prohibitions are many, though in actuality, the prohibition of alcohol was more similar to a decriminalization scheme as we think of it today in the United States, since minor use and possession of the drug were not prosecuted.
“Now that he has retired, Justice Paul Stevens has stated forthrightly that we should regulate and control marijuana. He has stated what tens of thousands of other government officials believe, but are constrained from saying publicly,” commented LEAP speaker Judge James P. Gray (Ret.), who well understands the constraints on judges not to comment on issues that may come before them while they sit on the bench.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a group of law enforcement officials who, after fighting in the front lines of the war on drugs, now advocate for its end.