Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) has just published an op-ed in Ozy titled, "What No One is Saying about Marijuana," where he sounds the alarm that "Addiction is big business, and with legal marijuana it's only getting bigger."
A recidivist drug and alcohol abuser (who has miraculously avoided jail time despite committing crimes while under the influence that would send lesser mortals to prison on felony convictions) arguing for the continued imprisonment of adults choosing to responsibly consume a substance is rich in its own right. But for a third-generation Kennedy to argue against ending marijuana prohibition because major profits will be made off of it is head-exploding irony and hypocrisy.
Perhaps the ex-Congressman missed the just-concluded final season of Boardwalk Empire, which included a major subplot depicting his grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, shrewdly anticipating the end of alcohol prohibition and getting in on the ground floor of legally importing liquor into the United States. With that one move, the politically connected and ruthlessly ambitious Kennedy patriarch built the fortune which to this day affords the Kennedy scion the ability to avoid both work and prison.
In today's op-ed, Kennedy's greatest fears for a world without marijuana prohibition are "Big Tobacco" swooping in and profiting off the newly legalized substance with a potentially huge consumer base, and that the "mainstreaming" of marijuana will harm the mental health of the nation's youth. He writes:
I've spent the last several years after leaving Congress advocating for a health care system that treats the brain like it does any other organ in the body. Effective mental health care, especially when it comes to children, is critically important. Knowing what we now know about the effects of marijuana on the brain, can we really afford to ignore its consequences in the name of legalization? Our No. 1 priority needs to be protecting our kids from this emerging public health crisis. The rights of pot smokers and the marijuana industry end where our children's health begins.
Citing one study tying marijuana with mental illness, Kennedy not only goes nowhere near the effects of alcohol on mental health, he makes no mention of the billions of dollars spent on marketing alcohol to youths, merely lamenting that when "Big Tobacco" becomes "Big Marijuana," they will surely "target our kids and profit from addiction."
Essentially, a man who owes his money, power, and freedom to profits made off of selling the most toxic and deadly drug in existence, wants people to continue to be locked up for recreational drug use, lest other rich people make money off of selling drugs.
For more on "The Patriarch" and the booze business that enables a grandson's passion for prohibition, watch this Reason TV interview with Joseph P. Kennedy biographer David Nasaw: