Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III opposed legislation legalizing pot in his own state, but reversed his position Tuesday — the same day Massachusetts’ first legal pot shops opened their doors.
Kennedy expressed concerns over the drug in a Tuesday op-ed published in STAT, but ultimately called for an end to the federal ban on pot, The Boston Globe reported. The Democrat had long been opposed to legalization efforts on both the state and federal levels and reiterated that opposition as recently as March. Now, Kennedy argues that marijuana’s inclusion as a Schedule I substance alongside heroin and LSD is overkill and only serves to prevent American companies from running effective clinical trials.
“Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken, benefiting neither the elderly man suffering from cancer whom marijuana may help nor the young woman prone to substance use disorder whom it may harm,” Kennedy wrote. “The patchwork of inconsistent state laws compounds the dysfunction. Our federal government has ceded its responsibility — and authority — to thoughtfully regulate marijuana. This needs to change.” (RELATED: Marijuana Shops Open Their Doors For First Day Of Legal Recreational Pot Sales In Massachusetts)
Kennedy’s federal legalization push is also nicely timed with the ouster of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Justice Department. Sessions had been among the fiercest opponents of pot legalization during his time in the Senate and lead crackdowns on its use as attorney general. (RELATED: Jeff Sessions May Want His Senate Seat Back)
“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved,” Sessions said in February. “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot. I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”
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