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Former Justice John Paul Stevens: Legalize Pot

Posted on Apr 26, 2014

    The third-longest serving justice in history, John Paul Stevens was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975. AP/Danny Johnston

The leading Supreme Court liberal who retired in 2010 said Saturday that the federal government should legalize marijuana, drawing parallels with the failure of alcohol prohibition.

The 94-year-old Stevens was discussing his new book in an interview with National Public Radio. When asked whether federal laws should follow those in states such as Washington and Colorado that have legalized the drug, he said, “Yes.”

He continued: “Public opinion has changed and recognized that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. There’s a general consensus that prohibition against dispensing and selling alcoholic beverages is not worth the cost, and I think really in time that will be the general consensus with this particular drug.

“It’s really a very similar problem to the whole problem with prohibition—and of course I lived through that, or part of that period.”

Of Stevens’ new book, The Guardian reports:

In his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, Stevens also proposes banning capital punishment and limiting gun rights and discusses current controversies over campaign funding and affirmative action.

One of his proposed amendments would change the second amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, to say: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed”.

Stevens said the only effect of this change would be to remove the final say on gun rights from supreme court justices, and devolve it to individual states, since it is they who define what constitutes the militia in their territory.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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