In an interview with National Public Radio’s Scott Simon on Thursday, retired Justice John Paul Stevens “made some news” when he declared that the federal government should legalize marijuana.
“A number of states are legalizing marijuana,” Simon said, “should federal law?”
“Yes,” Stevens replied.
“We may have just made some news,” Simon said.
“I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion,” Stevens continued, that has “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.”
According to an April 2014 poll, three out of four Americans believe marijuana will soon be legal throughout the United States. “The public appears ready for a truce in the long-running war on drugs,” said Pew in a summary of its findings, which appear on its website.
Retired Justice Stevens — who was considered part of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, but who considers himself to be conservative — was originally appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford on December 19, 1975. His comments are surprising, considering that a little more than a decade later, President Reagan withdrew the nomination of Judge Douglas Ginsburg after he acknowledged that he had smoked marijuana.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.