Constitution Daily

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Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens favors legalized marijuana

April 24, 2014 by NCC Staff


John Paul Stevens is making a lot of news these days at the age of 94, and his latest comments will have people talking again. In part of interview released on Thursday by NPR, the retired Supreme Court Justice said he’s in favor of legalized marijuana.


John_Paul_StevenstWhen asked by NPR’s Scott Simon if pot should be made legal on a federal level, Justice Stevens said, “yes.”


“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,” Stevens said.


Stevens is on a tour to promote his new book, Six Amendments, in which he proposes significant changes to the Constitution.


Legalized marijuana isn’t among the six new constitutional amendments that Stevens wants.


But the set of amendments he is arguing for would be just as controversial.


At the top of that list is a proposal to change the Second Amendment to make a distinction that only a state’s militia, not its citizens, has a constitutional right to bear arms.


Stevens also wants to ban the death penalty, limit campaign spending, stop gerrymandering, and compel states to perform federal duties in emergencies.


Currently, two states – Colorado and Washington – allow legal recreational use of marijuana in controlled conditions. Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.


But marijuana is still considered a controlled substance at a federal level. In August 2013, the Justice Department issued guidelines to federal prosecutors that said, at least for now, it won’t pre-empt legalization laws in Colorado and Washington.


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