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A.J. Herrington

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Appearing on a late-night talk show, Joe Kennedy III reveals his views on marijuana legalization. The Democratic congressman from Massachusetts was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night. Turns out, his views are in opposition to his political party.

Kennedy and Cannabis

Joseph Patrick Kennedy III is an attorney and represents the 4th Congressional District of Massachusetts. He has served in Congress since 2013. He is the grandson of Senator Robert “Bobby” Kennedy and the great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy. His father, Joseph Kennedy II, also served as a congressman from Massachusetts.

During their conversation, Kimmel asked Kennedy about his views on the legalization of cannabis (yes, he actually used the word cannabis).

Kennedy prefaced his answer by acknowledging that his stance is a conservative one for his political party.

“I realize my views on this are not exactly in line with [other Democrats]. I think the part of the impact of when you talk about the law is to make sure that you get the border cases right,” Kennedy said.

To back up his ideas, Kennedy relied on predictable prohibitionist prattle such as fears of an increase in cannabis use by youth.

“I do have concerns about what an increase in availability of legal marijuana means for adolescents and what it means for folks who struggle with addiction and mental health,” he said.

But multiple studies have shown that teen use doesn’t increase significantly in states with legal pot. And other research has found that cannabis can actually help treat addiction to opiates. Also, doctors write fewer prescriptions for opioid painkillers in states with legal marijuana.

But Alcohol Is Just Fine

When Kimmel mentioned that the congressman’s objections to cannabis are also relevant to alcohol, Kennedy changed his tune.

“I don’t drink, but obviously it’s OK that everybody else does,” he said. “I think, Jimmy, it’s something that if we’re going to move towards legalization, we have to be thoughtful about what that means.”

Kennedy then reiterated that he is bucking trends in the Democratic Party.

“I acknowledge the fact that I’m an outlier on this, but I just think it’s something we want to be careful and deliberate about as we go forward.”

Kimmel then noted that many areas of the country are far beyond merely moving towards cannabis legalization.

“We moved already. It’s been moved,” he said pointedly.

California was the first state to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis when 56 percent of voters passed Prop 215. Twenty years later in 2016, Prop 64 made the adult use of cannabis legal in the Golden State. California began legal recreational sales in January of this year.

Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts has had legal medical marijuana since 2012. Voters there also legalized recreational pot in 2016, and the state is currently in the process of licensing retail cannabis businesses.

Final Hit: Joe Kennedy III Reveals His Views on Marijuana Legalization

To his credit, Kennedy did note that inconsistent policy between the state and federal governments isn’t doing anyone any good. And mixed signals from the Trump administration aren’t helping either.

“The structures of the federal law are completely incomprehensible. And what Jeff Sessions and this administration are doing are making it worse,” he said.

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