In the political system of the United States, we’re not big on royalty; it didn’t work out well for us in the past and we spilled a lot of blood making sure we were done with hereditary rule. The closest we come to hereditary rule is our political family dynasties. Names like Roosevelt, Taft and Bush have dominated the scene for extended periods of time, but arguably none have captured the imagination of the American people more – or for a longer period of time – than the Kennedy family.
I’m not here to give you a U.S. history lesson; I’m simply pointing out that what I’m about to discuss is big for a couple of reasons.
In an op-ed posted on Tuesday, Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) came out in favor of federal cannabis law reform. Not only is Kennedy’s name big, his former opposition to legalization is big as well.
To his credit, Kennedy writes about his opposition to legalization and why he has come to see things from a different perspective. I’ve always been the first to say that no matter when you jumped on the marijuana law reform bus, thanks for jumping on board. We still have a lot of work to do and we will take every ally we can get – no matter how long it took them to finally come around.
Just because we saw the truth about cannabis before others doesn’t mean they should have seen it at the same time. We are not them and we haven’t lived their lives. If the ghost of Harry Anslinger came back and voiced support for marijuana legalization, I would support it (maybe after asking him about that whole virulent racist thing he had going on and see if his position on that had evolved as well).
“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. Given the rapid pace of state-level legalization and liberalization, I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines. To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level.”
Not only is Kennedy a former opponent of legalization, he is also an important voice and vote in the House of Representatives, which is the next major battle ground in the war over cannabis prohibition. He will be an important ally going forward and we should all be glad to have him.