Rep. Joe Kennedy III Says He Supports Weed Legalization So the Feds Can 'Regulate' It

After years of opposition, Kennedy has finally jumped on the pro-weed legalization bandwagon.


Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Despite his prior opposition to permitting the recreational use of marijuana, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D–Mass) announced today he supports legalizing weed at the federal level.

"Given the rapid pace of state-level legalization and liberalization, I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines," Kennedy wrote in an op-ed for STAT. "To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level."

Kennedy's announcement is noteworthy considering that on multiple occasions, he's spoken out against legalization. "I don't think marijuana should be legalized," he told Boston Magazine in September 2016, adding that "when we look at full-on legalization, the potential danger that marijuana poses particularly to adolescents—I'm not convinced."

Marijuana Moment's Tom Angell notes that Kennedy gradually began to reconsider his views. But as recently as this past March, the Massachusetts Democrat told Vox's Ezra Klein that decriminalizing marijuana made it more difficult for police to conduct vehicle searches. "If you smelled [marijuana] in a car, you could search a car," he said. "When it became decriminalized, you couldn't do that."

In his op-ed today, Kennedy didn't mention anything about police searches conducted with questionable justifications. Kennedy did explain that he still has "concerns about the public health impact of marijuana." But he believes "prohibition has wholly failed to address" these concerns.

So what brought about his change of view? Kennedy writes that legalizing weed nationwide would allow the federal government to "regulate" the marijuana industry:

Legalization would restore the federal government's ability to regulate a powerful new industry thoroughly and thoughtfully. It would allow us to set packaging and advertising rules, so marketing can't target kids. It would help set labeling requirements and quality standards, so consumers know exactly what they're buying. It would ensure that we can dedicate funding to encourage safe use and spread awareness about the risks of impaired driving. And it would create tax revenue for research on mental health effects, safe prescription drugs, and a reliable roadside test.

Of course, as Reason has explained on multiple occasions, government regulations in states where weed is already legal do more harm than good. As Kayla Stetzel wrote in May, the goal of most state regulations is to ensure marijuana ads don't target those under the age of 21. However, these regulations make investing in the industry riskier, meaning it's harder for smaller companies to enter the market. In California, as Reason's Jacob Sullum reported, regulatory costs often mean it's significantly cheaper to buy weed on the black market.

Even with the regulations that would surely accompany legalization at the federal level, ending pot prohibition is still a good idea (if for no other reason than that prohibition infringes on bodily autonomy, as Reason's Nick Gillespie argued back in 2010).

But it's worth pointing out that Kennedy only jumped on the pro-weed bandwagon when doing so was no longer that controversial. For one thing, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative more than two years ago legalizing recreational weed. Kennedy's op-ed came the same day that the first legal pot shops opened in the state.

Even at the federal level, legalization has made progress. Way back in April, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) came out in favor of federal marijuana legalization, following in the footsteps of Sens. Cory Booker (D–N.J.), Ron Wyden (D–Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.), and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.).

President Donald Trump, while not exactly supportive of legalization at the federal level, has indicated he thinks states should tackle the issue in whatever way they see fit. And with Jeff Sessions out as attorney general, it's possible the DOJ will deescalate its war on weed.

All of this is to say that while it's good Kennedy supports legalizing marijuana nationwide, it's hard to see his recent announcement as anything more than the Massachusetts Democrat following the crowd. Two in three Americans already support legalization, according to a Gallup poll from October, so Kennedy is clearly not alone.

Of course, expressing support for something most people already agree with is important for high-profile politicians, especially ones who might have their eyes on the White House.

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  1. “the Massachusetts Democrat told Vox’s Ezra Klein that decriminalizing marijuana made it more difficult for police to conduct vehicle searches”

    Well we certainly wouldn’t want to make it harder for agents of the state to search random vehicles. I mean, what do you think this is, some sort of free society? Get out of here with that crazy talk.

  2. legalize it at the federal level

    I guess I forgot that the default state of a substance is for it to be illegal, and we need legislation to change that. I remember when I was a kid, my friends and I used to say, “It’s a free country!” You don’t hear kids today saying that.

    1. It wasn’t free back then either.

      1. It was a lot freer than it is now. And at least people and kids in particular saw being a free country as a good thing. I am not sure you typical member of generation retard even sees freedom as a good thing anymore.

        1. Freer was it? With only three TV networks all under heavy-handed regulation? With the press beholden to the two parties, and alternatives limited to free weeklies? With obscenity laws still raging? With widespread government racism and homophobia, and women still limite din various official ways?

          Selective memory is only good for the selected few.

          1. The number of TV networks and ability to read drudge is really not reflective of how free a society is. Choice is not the same thing as freedom. You can live in a guilded cage and have more choice than a free man who lives in poverty.

            1. Freedom without choice is a lot less free than freedom with choice.

              Sometimes i think you just blather on in because your default mode is to respond to every comment, regardless of its merit or your response.

          2. With the press beholden to the two parties

            That seems like an odd thing to include, considering they pretty much still are.

            1. Trudat. And when I was young, we didn’t waste time watching TV. We had motorcycles and parties.

            2. There are far more independent sources these days.

          3. Jawn thinks Comstock laws with ten years in the pen for a mother teaching her daughter about rubbers is freedom. Life begins at erection is the conservative infiltrator motto.

            1. yeah, the Comstock laws were all the rage in the 70s.

              God you are stupid Hank. It is just scary how stupid you are.

        2. Just thinking of a few of the things that were illegal then where I was, & not now:
          competing w the phone or electric co.
          high interest loans
          home schooling
          homo sex
          cable TV
          owning more than 7 b’cast TV or radio stations

      2. In God We Trust.

        All others pay cash up front.

    2. “I guess I forgot that the default state of a substance is for it to be illegal”

      I guess you forgot that marijuana isn’t illegal out of any kind of default state, but rather that it is explicitly and expressly prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act and separately expressly prohibited under state law in the majority of US states.

      1. >>>I guess you forgot that marijuana isn’t illegal out of any kind of default state

        it’s illegal because J. P. Getty.

        1. I thought it was because William Randolph Hearst.

      2. The Crash and Depression were caused by prohibitionist asset forfeiture under the communist income tax. By 1933 Bert Hoover had used them to close every bank in These States and weed replaced corn sugar bootlegging. Repealing prohibition left the income tax intact and when the excise on beer failed to produce the expected tax revenue in 1936, weed and brown people were blamed and suppressed. All these sumptuary laws damage the economy and get people killed by idiots with service pistols.

      3. That would be fine, if the federal government had been granted any authority at all in this area. Since they have not, it’s irrelevant what the feds believe about weed.

        1. I think you are confusing what should be with what is.

    3. “It’s a free country!” You don’t hear kids today saying that.

      You need a trigger warning if you’re going to just blurt out things like that!


        Leaders at a college in Michigan decided to cancel its production of “The Vagina Monologues” because it’s discriminatory, given “not all women have vaginas.”

        The women’s resource center at Eastern Michigan University put the kibosh on the famous production since it caters only to women who have the physical anatomy that accompanies the female sex, according to The Ann Arbor News.

        The decision came after the resource center conducted a survey, asking respondents about “The Vagina Monologues.” Those opposed to the drama said they were concerned about the fact that the production excludes some women, namely those who don’t have vaginas.

        I am really at a loss to know what to say or do in response to this kind of crazy. If this is what our civilization is destined to become, then the radical Muslims have a point and we are better off letting them take it over. WTF?

        1. SMH

          I learned yesterday from an OBL post that Planned Parenthood thinks men can have uteri.

          What a great time to be alive.

          1. Stone age tribes in the Amazon think this shit is crazy. Transgenderism is the most insane thing in the history of civilization. It is not the most damaging or the most evil, but it is absolutely the most insane in that it denies reality in a way that even things like human sacrifice and such do not.

            1. And they just had to go for the real crazy. If it had stopped with the notion that some people have gender dysphoria and think they are better off presenting themselves as the other sex, and that we should treat such people decently, that would be one thing. But in insisting that the people with gender dysphoria problems are actually, literally the other gender/sex, they’ve gone into some real absurdity.

              1. That is because it is about power and humiliating people not actually helping anyone.

            2. This from someone who wants to sacrifice pregnant girls on the altar of coathanger abortions. Whatever happened to the other 200 mystical bigots who were here before the election anyway?

              1. Hank, you need to talk to your doctors and get your meds straightened out. Whatever you are takikng isn’t working.

                1. Don’t you know John, if you don’t agree with abortion on demand at any time (even if you never advocate for the government regulating it) you’re a religious nut job who wants women to get murdered in dark alleys.

          2. I suppose you could also say it excluded those women who have had hysterectomies? But I don’t think that’s what they’re getting at.

        2. I think, or hope, that that is where it is all bound to fail. There is just too much inconsistency and disagreement among the radical left on this sort of thing.

          It’s just ridiculous and petty to insist that the 99.99% of women who do have vaginas (putting aside the question of what is a “real” woman for the moment) can’t have some kind of common experience based on that because a very small minority has gender dysphoria problems.

        3. What pussies.

        4. Or… What pussies?

          You decide.

        5. Seems they might’ve noticed that men don’t have vaginas either. Talk about discriminatory!

    4. Well, you do need legislation to change it when there is legislation making it illegal.

      1. At the federal level you do not. There is no law that says Pot is illegal. There is the federal controlled substances act that says everything that the FDA puts on what is known as “schedule 3” is illegal. The FDA could take pot off of schedule 3 and legalize it without Congress changing the law.

        1. OK, I knew it was the case that they could change scheduling and add things without legislation, but wasn’t sure if all substances could just be removed administratively.

          In any case, the people who could deschedule marijuana haven’t been doing their jobs very well, so federal legislation may be necessary as a practical matter.

          1. I think it is necessary as a political matter. Decriminalizing Marijuana is a big deal and is something that should be done by Congress not bureaucrats.

            1. See? It is no longer expedient to shoot kinds then ask their parents for votes and campaign donations while confiscating their home. So even Jawn sees the political necessity, thanks to LP spoiler votes picking off Trumpistas as fast as they vacate carbon-tax econazi politicians. There’s a miracle for ya.

              1. Hank TAKE YOUR MEDS. You have really lost it today. The voices in your head must be screaming or something.

            2. Congress has no authority in that area, so why would you ask Congress to act? Stop legitimizing their unconstitutional actions.

              1. Because there are unconstitutional laws on the books. The courts don’t seem interested in striking them down. So Congress should act. I’d be OK with courts striking down federal drug laws too, but they don’t seem interested in doing that.

  3. “Ask NOT which way the wind is blowing; ask how the wind might blow you suddenly closer to the right side of history!”

    1. So inspiring.

    2. Bravo, gave me a hearty chuckle.

    3. The right side for the wrong reasons.

    4. That’s a Kennedy for you, only caring about getting blown.

  4. Nothing but an inbred moron.

  5. >>>Kennedy has finally jumped on the pro-weed legalization bandwagon

    No, he has not.

    1. No, he has not.

      This. He’s jumped onto the “hey, look, something we can tax and regulate the shit out of” bandwagon.

      1. exactly. +1 Nate Dogg & Warren G

        1. Every time I see your screen name I think, “Could that be Daz Dillinger? Nah, probably not.”

          But now with this comment, I might change my mind.

      2. This asswipe was born to wealth and fame only because the family patriarch was a successful bootlegger. If not for prohibition, he’d probably be a shift manager at Walmart. So his logic actually makes perfect sense.

  6. So the feds can regulate it is not legalization. If pot becomes just another proscryption drug or so absurdly taxed that people end up buying it off the black market anyway, that is not legalization. And it really isn’t much of an improvement over what we have now.

  7. When politicians call for marijuana legalization it’s never for the right reasons. I have yet to hear one say “It’s none of my fucking business what you put in your body”.

    1. It is always because they see it as something they can tax and regulate and control not out of any interest in leaving people alone.

    2. I have yet to hear one say “It’s none of my fucking business what you put in your body”.

      And you never will because at the end of the day they don’t believe that.

    3. He isn’t popular here, but wasn’t that basically what G. Johnson said?

  8. Not enough legal stuff left to regulate, to lefties want to legal stuff just so they can keep on the regulating. Got it.

    1. The deal will be that we will criminalize “hate speech” so the cops stil have their thing and in return “legalize” marijana so the nanny state can have something new to tax and control.

      Everyone wins!!

      1. This country needs a cleansing.

        1. There are times when you think maybe Bin Ladin had a point.

      2. I heard you say something nasty, so I get to search your car now.

        1. No, Google heard you say that there are only two sexes. So, we are now going to conduct a no knock 5 am raid on your house to enforce the resulting arrest and search warrent we obtained after Google sent us the recording of you saying it it made from listening to you through your phone without your knowledge.

          This is the kind of future that Tony masturbates about at night.

        2. Easy for Kennedy to say. The same water that drowns female interns (fetus and all) can be counted on to extinguish a joint and wash away the smell of weed. “No probable cause here, Captain, just a Kennedy at the wheel.”

    2. It’s the only way to sell it to the modern American public.

  9. As Mr. Seyton noted, this is opening day here in Massachusetts for retail pot.

    I wonder whether our old friend, Joe from Lowell, will be heading out to Leicester, one of the two pot shops opening today. It is the one closest to him.

    1. I can’t see Joe being much of a pot head. He was way too earnest and wound way too tight for that.

  10. “As Kayla Stetzel wrote in May, the goal of most state regulations is to ensure marijuana ads don’t target those under the age of 21.”

    Bulldinky and poppycock! If New Jersey is any guide, the goals of state regulation are (1) to squeeze maximum tax revenue out of stoners so zonked that they don’t realize they are being squeezed, (2) to create a regulatory scheme so complex that politically-connected buddies will get licenses (under the proposed scheme you get points toward obtaining licenses if you agree not to oppose your employees unionizing), and (3) to “remedy injustice” by giving licensing preference to “oppressed” groups that, by sheer coincidence I’m sure, just happen to be loyal Democrat constituencies.

    1. It will be a repeat of legalized gambling. Gamblind will be “legal” the day I can run a crap game in my basement legally. Sorry, but giving a monopoly to some crony and making the cops enforcers for the state monopoly is not making something legal in a very meaningful way.

      1. It’s very meaningful. A lot more people want to gamble legally than want to run a crap game legally. Legalizing a state monopoly would be removing the restriction that bothers the most people.

  11. Underwhelmed by his foresight and leadership. About as inspiring as Obama’s “evolving opinion” about gay equality. I think Trump should legalize weed just to take it away from the Democrats, who need to be punished for not supporting it decades ago. Republicans = neocon firebrands. Dems = neocon apologists. At least Republicans never pretend to be your friend while hurting you.

    1. Trump could have it taken off of schedule 3 and it would no longer be a controlled substance at the federal level.

      1. Do you mean Trump or Obama?

        1. Obama could have done the same thing. The fact that neither did says they are not that serious about legalizing it.

        2. Obama could have done the same thing. The fact that neither did says they are not that serious about legalizing it.

          1. Why would they be serious about legalizing it?
            They and theirs are not going to be impacted by its current legal status, nor do they have any commercial interests at stake.

            1. Pretty much. Also, most of the people who feel strongly about legalizing pot vote Demcorat and would be very unlikely to vote for Trump even if he did legalize it. So doing so would gain him nothing and no doubt cost him the votes of Republicans who do not want it legalized.

      2. It’s not that simple. Per the APA, it would have to go through some kind of 6 month comment period or something, then the FDA would have to hold useless hearing after useless hearing in order to accomplish what should be the simplest of things.

        1. True. It would take a while, but it could be done and done without Congress.

  12. Legalization would restore the federal government’s ability to regulate a powerful new industry thoroughly and thoughtfully. It would allow us to set packaging and advertising rules, so marketing can’t target kids. It would help set labeling requirements and quality standards, so consumers know exactly what they’re buying. It would ensure that we can dedicate funding to encourage safe use and spread awareness about the risks of impaired driving. And it would create tax revenue…

    Ah yes, the tax revenue. The real reason he’s coming out in favor of legalization. That and, as noted later in the article, the rest of the country is already headed in that direction. There’s nothing a politician loves more than running out to the front of a parade and pretending they were leading it all along.

  13. How many dead Kennedys in politics does it take for them to realize that American dont like them?

    1. Only people in small areas of Mass. need to like them.

      1. We had one of the more useless ones here in Rhode Island for a while. In this relatively elderly state, the old biddies used to vote en masse for Patrick Kennedy because “Jack was so handsome and Jackie was so glamorous.”

        1. Oh Jesus. I bet you just want to barf every time they say that.

    2. The smart play is to take off and nuke Hyannis Port from orbit.

      It’s the only way to be sure.

    3. He does look every inch a Kennedy. I’m surprised someone hasn’t shot him yet.

  14. Alternate Headline:

    Drooling Idiot Wants a Piece of the Action

  15. There is nothing so stupid and corrupt as a politician named Kennedy.

    1. As The Clinton’s step up and say “hold my beer.”

  16. “If you smelled [marijuana] in a car, you could search a car,” he said. “When it became decriminalized, you couldn’t do that.”

    Not quite as bad as threatening to kill Americans that don’t agree with you on gun policy but still pretty scary stuff. Keep a popular recreational drug illegal so cops can search more cars and charge more citizens with more crimes, all in the name of “safety”. The modern equivalent of a cop breaking a taillight with his nightstick and using it as probably cause. And people think this guy…and most other politicians…actually care about them or their rights.

    1. Or wanting to prosecute Climate Change? deniers.

    2. “If you smelled [marijuana] in a car, you could search a car,” he said. “When it became decriminalized, you couldn’t do that.”
      Well they could still search a car with a drowned woman in it.

  17. Sure, marijuana legalization is a big win for our cause, but let’s whine about regulation. We already have a fascist in the Oval Office, but drug guidelines are clearly the real breaking point. You goons are pathetic, and when Trump is tried for treason, you’ll be seen for the right-wing lunatics you truly are.

    In fact, you should just change the name of your publication to Treason. Maybe Putin can help with your next donation drive.

    1. You know would be a great idea? Giving that fascist and the fascists rethuglicans regulatory power over something like pot or sex. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Hey. Moron. Trump isn’t gonna be president in a few months’ time. Neither will Mike Pence. Once Robert Mueller blows the Russia thing wide open, his whole administration is going down. Then, someone like Hillary Clinton can manage the regulatory state, and it won’t be susceptible to misuse.

        Of course, idiots like you would rather abolition the regulatory state than let a capable woman or person of color manage it. Either white people control everything, or no one does, right?

        1. I vote for no one.

  18. Joe Seyton wasn’t paying attention in math class. But the lobbyists these political whores rely on for guidance are painfully aware of Fisher-Pry and other logistical replacement curves. The reality is that politicians who send men with guns to (regrettably) kill (some, as examples) and handcuff our kids will be replaced by libertarians or by other looters quicker to appreciate how libertarian spoiler votes work. Ever since our plank became the Roe v Wade decision prying superstitious Dixiecrats off of women’s (and physicians’) bodies, Kleptocracy kkkandidates ignore us at their peril.

    1. Dude. You need a few more hits. Or maybe none at all.

  19. Fuck you asshole, I grow my own untaxed and unregulated marijuana.

    Stick your fucking laws up your fucking ass.

    1. What you lack in subtlety, you more than make up for in Odin’s own righteous warrior spirit.

      Hell, yeah!

  20. Kennedy’s being accidentally honest, or unwittingly so. The lesson here is for those libertarians that somehow think by having weed decriminalised or legalised that they are more free. They’re not. They’re just differently regulated, and when all aspects of the enforcement-compliance-education chain are taken into account, they are probably more regulated.

    Because it’s so lucrative a sin, the weed taxes will grow. Because the state is now financially complicit in the drug industry, weed education, safe and responsible use, yada, yada, will dignify a new phalanx of concerned bureaucrats. And because there’s now a popular production, wholesale and retail chain in operation, compliance officers will swarm across the land to enforce the new regulations.

    Kennedy knows this.

  21. “So the Feds Can ‘Regulate’ It”

    In other words, PROFIT from it.

    It’s interesting that the government spends so much time fighting the Mob, which bases it’s allowance of operations solely on its own ability to profit from such (shakedown schemes), yet the government operates in the exact same manner.

    Freedom is no longer an intrinsic, natural right in the minds of governments, but a privilege to be bought.

    “President Donald Trump, while not exactly supportive of legalization at the federal level, has indicated he thinks states should tackle the issue in whatever way they see fit.”

    And yet busts of legal operations are occurring more frequently in places like Colorado.

    ANYONE that believes ANYTHING Herr Trump says is a likely a near-complete idiot.
    He speaks directly from his ass.
    His words mean shit.

    U.S. District Attorney Bob Troyer Explains Attack on Legal Marijuana
    (source =

    “And with Jeff Sessions out as attorney general, it’s possible the DOJ will deescalate its war on weed.”

    Absolutely stupid statement because you have no idea what might happen.
    Your assumptions only highlight your complete ignorance.

  22. Decriminalize instead of Legalize… the Fed will have less power to tax, profit, regulate, etc.

    1. How do you figure that? Decriminalizing makes it no longer a crime, but keeps it as a violation.

      1. Exactly. There’s no difference when it comes to enforcement and tax raising. Enforcement is renamed compliance and expands as the weed market now actually needs more regulation than the simple search and destroy regime that existed previously.

  23. The “Libertarian” Reason Foundation, Publisher of and Reason Magazine has received over $1.5 million from the “Libertarian” David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, their largest contributor.

    “Libertarian” Koch Industries has received over $422 MILLION in GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES.

    (source = Good Jobs First and Cato Institute)

    Not only are the ultra-wealthy largely escaping their tax obligations (necessary to help pay for the vast public resources and services they use), but they’re also given a hundred billion in FREE MONEY yearly.
    (source = “Capital Without Borders” by Brooke Harrington)





    Perhaps companies and organizations like Reason and Koch ought to judge their own actions first.

    My law of moral universal sustainability:
    Before making ANY judgement or taking ANY action, one needs to consider the consequences of those judgements and actions if EVERYONE were to do the same as they.
    Would those judgements or actions sustain, universally?

  24. Typical career poliltician. More control, and when we’ve got THAT control well in hand, more yet.

    No, FedGov should emphatically NOT “legalise weed”. What FedGov MUST do is simply repeal the Controlled Substances Act. The inclusion of cannabis in that law as a “Schedule One” drug was based on lie,s falsehood, bogus “science”, hysteria, and clear for-profit motive on behalf of a najor corporation that wanted cannabis banned to better protect the specific interests of that self-same company. All greed and no justice is what went down. the compay bought off the COngress and got the bill rammed through.
    Marijuana is no more a Schedule One drug than that my pet chicken can fly to the moon and back in a week, all by herself.
    Delist cannabis as a controlled substance at any level
    Nunna FedGov’s bidniss…. thus it is retained by the states, and/or the PEOPLE. Meddling FedGov need their wings seriously clipped.

  25. “If it moves, tax it
    If it continues to move, regulate it;
    If it stops moving, subsidize it.”
    Sounds like Joe already had too much weed.

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