Dennis Kucinich: 'The American People Are Mature Enough to Make Their Own Choices'

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is an eight-term congressman, two-time presidential candidate, former mayor of Cleveland, and indefatigable opponent of wars both foreign and domestic.


Q: Are we coming toward a moment when marijuana legalization is going to happen?

A: Yes, because the cost of enforcing these laws is prohibitive; because it's been proven it's not a gateway drug; because the American people are mature enough to be able to make their own choices. This is one area where the government really should not be concerned about what people are smoking. As a health problem, that's a separate issue; if somebody has a drug problem, that should be a matter of hospitalization, not incarceration. 

I think America has grown to understand that this intervention through surveillance, and through spying on people who are users of marijuana, that has to stop.

Q: Is it going to be a bipartisan victory when marijuana is legalized? You've worked with people like Ron Paul on the other side of the aisle. Who are the best allies in the Republican Party to push this forward?

A: There are a number of libertarians on both sides of the aisle who understand that this isn't something we should be knocking our heads into the wall about. It's not a radical position at this point in American history to say that decriminalization or legalization ought to occur. You know, I don't see it as a big deal.

Q: You've talked about the social change that happens when people make themselves visible, when they go into the streets, like they did during the civil rights era.

A: Absolutely, yeah.

Q: Are you prepared to talk about your use of marijuana, or your use of illegal drugs, as a way of spurring people to be confident about telling their stories?

A: I am probably the wrong person to ask to come forward and testify, because I never smoked—I mean, anything. I just don't smoke. I see this as a personal freedom issue. And whether I smoke or not, I can still take a stand for personal freedom.