Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Says Legalize It

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that the federal government should follow the lead of states that have legalized marijuana. That makes him the first Supreme Court justice -- retired or otherwise -- to endorse legalization.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (SCOTUS)
"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 isn't the first time Justice Stevens has taken a progressive stand on drug policy. In a 2011 interview in Time magazine, the bow-tied jurist slammed harsh drug sentencing. "The use of mandatory minimum statutes has had a very adverse effect on the overall system, and I think generally, the so-called war on drugs has emphasized more-severe punishment than is appropriate throughout the country," Stevens said then. "There are some instances where penalties are so disproportionate that they could well violate the Eighth Amendment."

And although Stevens authored the Supreme Court opinion in Gonzales v. Raich upholding federal preeminence over state medical marijuana laws, he has also called it "most unwise" to prohibit the medical use of the drug.

Stevens' latest remarks were cheered by Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

"Justice Stevens is right. Public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization," said Angell. "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."

Stevens served as Supreme Court justice from 1975 to 2010.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Key word: Retired

Is there currently any nationally and internationally relevant and active politician/judge/whatever around, loudly or at least openly advocating a policy change?

In The Prohibtionists's World...

In the prohibitionist's world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are "stoners" and "dopers" that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society. In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about "saving us all" from the evils of marijuana use. Who are they to tell us we can't choose marijuana, the safer choice instead alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes? People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who "follow the law" also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it's current prohibition of course) . Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too. Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives. Although, that doesn't mean a damned thing to people who will make comments like "dopers" and "stoners" about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol. To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, glorifies, and advertises alcohol consumption like it's an All American pastime. There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long, hard day, than having a drink or two of alcohol. So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can't enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes? We've worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don't appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all. Has a marijuana user ever tried to force you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either. Don't try to impose your morality and "clean living" upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won't think you're such prohibitionist hypocrites. Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative! anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are "stoners" and "dopers" that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society. In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about "saving us all" from the evils of marijuana use. Who are they to tell us we can't choose marijuana, the safer choice instead alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes? People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who "follow the law" also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it's current prohibition of course) . Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too. Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives. Although, that doesn't mean a damned thing to people who will make comments like "dopers" and "stoners" about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol. To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, glorifies, and advertises alcohol consumption like it's an All American pastime. There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long, hard day, than having a drink or two of alcohol. So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can't enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes? We've worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don't appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all. Has a marijuana user ever tried to force you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either. Don't try to impose your morality and "clean living" upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won't think you're such prohibitionist hypocrites. Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

outlaw

Yup, agreed. If other drugs are legal (e.g. alcohol, cigarettes), it makes no sense to outlaw marijuana too. jhony

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