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Joe Kennedy III Official Photo
"When the people speak, the leaders will listen." - someone, at some point, probably
Recent results at the ballot box have some politicians singing a different tune on cannabis legalization. While some might say that's due to a change in consciousness brought about by long periods of rumination, consideration, and advisory meetings with trusted staff on the issue, others (say, me) may say it's because most politicians are spineless cowards who would advocate for child marriage if it meant holding onto their highly coveted positions of power and pay instead of getting a real job.

One such politico seems to have seen the (green) light this month, doing a total 180. His doing so could serve as a tipping point for cannabis legalization.

Massachusetts Representative Joseph Kennedy III came out in favor of cannabis legalization this week, stating, "Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken...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."

As the Boston Globe reports, Kennedy "opposed his home state's move to legalize marjiuana, which voters approved by ballot measure in 2016, and as recently as March voiced skepticism of the push to legalize the drug."

Kennedy's problem with pot is a long-standing one—he's been a staunch opponent of cannabis legalization in any form, and in 2015 voted against a measure which would have prohibited the Department of Justice from going after medical cannabis businesses in states with medical cannabis programs.

He explained that he now recognizes the disparities in cannabis arrests and prosecution of people of color for cannabis offenses, but has ongoing concerns about the public health issues which could emerge from a liberalized cannabis policy. (Such as, say, a reduction in opioid deaths? Yes, this troubles me as well.) He admitted that he has no plans to introduce legalization legislation to the House of Representatives, because of that spine issue, but expects the newly blue House to do so next year.

Kennedy explained that his family's well documented issue with substance abuse issues shaped his views on legalization, and how it could impact those struggling with addiction (See: Opioid death/addiction reduction in states with medical and rec cannabis programs.)

Speaking of family, his cousin Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman, is a cofounder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, whose prohibitionist rhetoric belies the "Smart" part. Patrick said, "This is going to be essentially a massively commercialized product that is going to jeopardize the public health and lead to higher rates of addiction and, where in people are predisposed to mental illness, that as well." Except that's not true, but whatever.

It's somewhat ironic that the multi-generational Kennedy dynasty was in part funded by alcohol. Although there persists an unfounded rumor of bootlegging during prohibition by the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, Joe Kennedy Sr., the website Smugglers Bootleggers and Scofflaws state that "records confirm that before Prohibition, Joe Kennedy’s father imported whiskey to Boston and owned saloons in Boston. In 1934, the year after Prohibition, the son founded Somerset Limited and imported quality liquor, mostly whiskey, for a decade, reputedly making a profit in the millions."

Remember, as long as you are profiting from something, it's acceptable.