Retired Justice Stevens: Time to Legalize Marijuana

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 09:43 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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It's time for the federal government to legalize marijuana, as public opinion is changing and "the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction," retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens believes.

"I really think that that's another instance of public opinion [that's] changed," Stevens told NPR's Scott Simon Thursday. "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."

Polls reveal that most Americans agree with Stevens' stance, reports The Huffington Post.  A Gallup poll last October found that 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, and a Pew Research Center survey earlier this month showed that 75 percent of those responding think legalization is inevitable.

"Justice Stevens is right. Public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said Thursday. "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, appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford, considers himself a conservative, but he's always been considered a liberal when it comes to his stances on the court, reports NPR.

But the 94-year-old has been creating controversy in recent days while promoting his new book "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution," which has chapters that propose constitutional changes for amendments governing gun control, the death penalty, gerrymandering, and state sovereignty, each concluding with a proposed amendment.

In his NPR interview, Stevens also said that there has been a drastic shift in public opinion on gay marriage, and he believes that "in due course when people actually think through the issues they will be able to accept [the] merits of my arguments."

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