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Massuchusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy now supports legalization

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Massuchusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy now supports legalization

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), a prominent Democrat who’s expected to run for president in 2020, now supports legalization. Kennedy had been an opponent to legalization for years, and many think he’s changing his tune because of the vast support for legalization among Democrats. At this time, around 69 percent of Democrats support legalization.

“One thing is clear to me: 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 in an op-ed for Stat News. “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”

Though many see Kennedy’s change in opinion as partially a political move, it’s a welcome change to cannabis advocates in Massachusetts. They don’t care why he changed his opinion as long as he’s consistent.

“I never worry about a politician’s change of heart,” Peter Bernard, president of MassGrowers, told Cannabis News Box. “Most people aren’t going to vote for someone based on that one factor. But, it is risky for him because people opposed to the idea of legalization may be turned off now. He may draw support from Massachusetts and gain scorn in D.C.”

That said, Bernard is waiting to see what Kennedy does now that he says he supports legalization. He wants to see action behind the words. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) already has a legalization bill called the STATES Act that Bernard is hoping Kennedy will support.

“Let’s see him get behind that legislation,” Bernard said. “Until he does, I will reserve judgment.”

Bernard pointed out that Kennedy is a little behind other nationally-known politicians in his state when it comes to legalization. Warren, who was mentioned above, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) are both fighting hard for legalization.

“I think with other politicians like Seth Moulton and Elizabeth Warren being outspoken on legalization may have played a factor,” Bernard said. “It is also possible that he saw financial projections and realizes that Massachusetts is uniquely poised east of the Mississippi to be the East Coast center of cannabis, especially where cannabis tourism is concerned. Cannabis tourism is a very real thing. Just ask any of the legal states out West that have had it longer than we have.”


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Massuchusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy now supports legalization