‘I did inhale’: How the politics of pot is changing

By Colby Itkowitz | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – President Bill Clinton admitted to smoking marijuana, but famously said he never inhaled. President George W. Bush is believed to have partaken in illicit drugs in his youth, though he always played coy about it. President Barack Obama wrote candidly about his past marijuana and cocaine use, but was never a strong supporter of pot reforms at the federal level.

Now, less than 30 years after Clinton felt the need to qualify his drug use, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is not only unabashedly owning up to her own personal marijuana use, but is in full support of making it legal nationwide.

“Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me,” Harris said laughing, during a radio interview Monday. “And I did inhale.”

Harris’s unflinching support for legalization shows the dramatic evolution in the ease in which politicians talk about pot now. Whereas once policymakers decried marijuana as a gateway drug, Harris defended its use by saying, “it gives a lot of people joy.”

“And we need more joy in the world,” she said.

Major policy shifts at the federal level often follow state-level change that coincides with a sea change in public opinion. Like the legalization of gay marriage in the last decade, there’s been a swift societal reversal.

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 10 states. The first states, Colorado and Washington, only changed their laws in 2012.

When Clinton was in the White House, just about 25 percent of Americans thought marijuana should be legal for recreational use. Today a record 66 percent support legalization, according to a Gallup survey.

With that much public support for it, candidates for president, especially on the Democratic side, all but have to come down on the side of legalization. And most of them do.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has sponsored …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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