Joe Kennedy III appeared on Jimmy Kimmel last evening further affirming his opposition to legal marijuana. He does not provide any clear understanding of why he is such an opponent except to say that we do not know enough about cannabis. To Kimmel’s credit, he questions the young congressman’s stance on cannabis but without at least rescheduling marijuana, the research required to know the positives and negatives of cannabis consumption will remain officially undocumented scientifically. His grandfather and great uncle were both a large part of the civil rights movement during the 1960’s, but plainly Joe Kennedy III has failed to realize that cannabis legalization is a civil rights issue as well.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, a representative of Massachusetts, has been one of the few democrats that have opposed cannabis legalization efforts in the country and in his own state. He has been wobbling on the issue lately but he even voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment which protects state legal marijuana business from federal prosecution by removing the funding from the Justice Department.
His grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, even made comments six decades ago that leaned towards suggesting that if cigarettes are legal then why would marijuana not be legal? In light of all the social injustices minorities and low-income individuals face from low-level marijuana possession arrests and convictions, it is surprising to hear Bobby Kennedy’s ancestor fight against legalization efforts.
“I come at it a little bit differently, obviously, than the vast majority of my colleagues,” he said in a separate interview this month. “I think the party is clearly moving in that legalization direction. It might already be there.”
But in the new interview this week, Kennedy made clear that he still has a lot of concerns about legalization, which he campaigned against in Massachusetts.
“There’s a pretty robust voice in the addiction community that points out some of the challenges and how it has had negative impacts on folks,” he said. “Those voices should be listened to as well.”
He also isn’t sold on medical cannabis, which voters legalized in his state in 2012.
“If we are going to treat something like a medicine, it needs to go through the proper medical trials,” he said. “We’re not going through that process.”
But although Kennedy has repeatedly voted in Congress to allow the Department of Justice to arrest and prosecute medical cannabis patients and providers, he says he doesn’t necessarily want the DEA to launch large-scale raids.
“Assuming there are communities that are doing this in a safe and effective way, I certainly could see myself allowing that go forward,” he said. “I don’t want to upend the access to care that these patients need.”
Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana and sales are expected to begin come July 1st. The state has even approved cannabis lounges for public consumption even though a number of state officials are fighting against it. Do you think that if Bobby Kennedy was still alive he would have supported national legalization of marijuana?