Justice John Paul Stevens, formerly of the U.S. Supreme Court, during an interview at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, in New York.
Todd Heisler/New York Times/Redux

Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana should be legalized

Updated

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday he believes the federal government should legalize marijuana.

In an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, the former justice said that marijuana should be made legal due to the shifting cultural tides. 

“I really think that that’s another instance of, public opinion has changed and recognized that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction,” Stevens said when asked by host Scott Simon if possessing marijuana should be legal under federal law. “The alcohol – the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has, I think, been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost.”  

“We may have just made some news,” NPR’s Simon told Stevens, sounding surprised.

“And I think really that in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug,” said the former justice. 

Appointed by former President Gerald Ford in 1975, the 94-year-old retired from the bench in 2010. But Stevens points out an evolving landscape when it comes to attitudes on the drug, especially with two states legalizing recreational marijuana sales and usage. 

For the first time in four decades of polling, more than half of all Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, and that support is continuing to rise, according to the latest Pew poll. The same poll showed that 75% of Americans believe marijuana legalization is “inevitable.”

Stevens has been making news this past week while he is currently promoting his new book titled “Six Amendments,” in which he details the six changes he would make to the Constitution. In his book, he proposes doing away with the death penalty, enforcing limits on corporate donations in elections, and implementing stricter gun control laws.

Simon also asked Stevens about his views on marriage equality in the interview. Stevens said that he remains confident that same-sex marriage will be allowed in every state from witnessing the “dramatic change in public opinion.” 

“The fact that the general public’s reaction to same-sex marriage has changed so dramatically within the last decade makes me more confident that in due course, when people actually think through the issues, they’ll be willing to accept the merits of some of my arguments,” Stevens said. 

Marijuana and Supreme Court

Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana should be legalized

Updated