Changing your opinion can invoke a lot of scrutiny. And if you happen to have power, people will inevitably put your words and position under a microscope. If your changed opinion is on the hot topic of weed, then it’s bound to make headlines. Powerful people change their mind all the time. Here’s an important list of powerful people who changed their mind about weed, for better or worse.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Doctor and TV personality
When a TV doctor says “Don’t do it; it’s bad for your health,” viewers listen. And when that same doctor backtracks on what he said previously, viewers will listen too. Thankfully, after Dr. Sanjay Gupta was shown the light in lighting up, he exercised his celebrity power and wrote Senator Jeff Sessions a letter about his newfound faith in cannabis.
John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives
Of all the powerful people who have changed their mind about weed and marijuana policy reform, this once-adamantly opposed politician put up more stink than a lingering smoke cloud. But like many politicians, once he recognized the medicinal potential to veterans and others in medical need, he changed his tune. Now, Boehner sits on the board of a major U.S. cannabis company, Acreage Holdings.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has rallied in support for medical marijuana to be decided by state law. His stance has changed since starting politics in 1981 when he claims 1 in 4 Americans was against the recreational use of pot. Today, Sen. Schumer is one of the strongest advocates. He now argues for the decriminalization of weed at a federal level, not just for medical use. He introduced his bill for this effort on 4/20 of this year.
Julian Fantino, Former Toronto Police Chief
In today’s world, what is said is not always what is meant. At least, that’s what former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino would claim. Joining the ranks of other powerful people who changed their mind about weed, this guy actually compared legalizing weed to legalizing murder, publicly. But now, he sits as executive chair of the medical marijuana company Aleafia. So it’s no surprise that now he’s on the bud bandwagon, people are calling him out on his change in attitude. His response follows Rep. Boehner’s lead, arguing for its medicinal benefits for veterans experiencing PTSD.
The Transportation Security Association (TSA)
It has never been legal to transport marijuana. And the TSA is not a singular person with power, but rather a group of powerful people who changed their mind about weed. In 2013, the TSA approached luggage screening loosely. While drugs that were found would be reported (including weed, medicinal or not), they were not explicitly looked for during the screening process. But now, the TSA is clear about the stringency of their screening. Their guidance? Don’t fly with it or you may be discovered by drug-sniffing dogs. They follow federal law, and even medical weed doesn’t make it on the plane. But let’s face it. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (R-Colo.)
When Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, Gov. Hickenlooper was adamantly opposed, even saying he wished he could “wave a magic wand” to reverse the voters’ decision. But once the benefits of Colorado’s legal industry began to re-shape his state’s economy, Gov. Hickenlooper flipped sides. The state looked as if it could lead by example on how to create a regulated system for legal bud. Most recently, the Governor has once again flopped back, claiming the crime rates have increased and he won’t rule out working to recriminalize marijuana in his state. Most recently, he’s shown his true colors on the subject, vetoing a bill that would’ve made it so that adults and children with autism could use medical marijuana.
Miley Cyrus, singer and actor
Miley’s celebrity and outspokenness regarding bud help gain her a spot on this list. The wild child has been seen wearing weed panties and smoking that ganja. But in an interview with Jimmy Fallon she dug in deep. It turns out the pop star stopped her smoke sessions to gain more creative clarity in her music. Another reason for quitting? She had a horrific nightmare where she died during her Saturday Night Live monologue from being too stoned. Though Cyrus still agrees politically with marijuana, her personal use has definitely done a 180.
Woody Harrelson, actor
Party animal Woody Harrelson finally had to throw the towel in on his daily dank, telling his fans and fellow pot advocates that the plant he loved so much made him “emotionally unavailable”. He quit, for almost a year. But like any true follower, Woody found his way back to the ganja goddess, after a motivational speech from his friend Willie Nelson. Now he’s enjoying weed more consciously.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
In 2012, Sen. Cory Gardner opposed legalizing marijuana in his fair mountainous state. Well, the times have changed not only for the state of Colorado after legalization but also for this senator. Since January 2018, Sen. Gardner has served as the face of a bipartisan effort to make the legalization of marijuana happen in the US. Unabashedly, he has argued against the Trump administration and Sen. Jeff Sessions’ focused war on marijuana. Now, he’s launched a bipartisan bill with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-) to keep up the good work.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Previously, this senator opposed national legalization of Mary Jane. But like many of the powerful people who changed their mind about weed, this politician may be singing a different tune because of an upcoming election. Not wanting to run on with a title like “California’s Last Prohibitionist”, Sen. Feinstein now says she supports legalization on the federal level. For an extra measure, she says until then, the country has no right to meddle in her state’s marijuana industry.
David Stern, ex-NBA commissioner
Few people hold more power than professional athletes. They are the modern gladiators. Yet, the commissioners who regulate the bodies (and what goes into them) on the court or field are sometimes even more powerful than the players themselves. Stern famously tightened up marijuana policy while serving the NBA from 1984 to 2014. But now, as revealed in an interview with cannabis advocate and former NBA star Al Harrington, he supports removing marijuana from the league’s banned substances list.
The American Medical Association (AMA)
Organizations can hold more power than a single individual. The AMA is made up of many powerful people who changed their mind about weed, in fact. In 2009, the AMA put forth the recommendation that marijuana be removed from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I category of drugs, making it available for research and medical testing. Their switch and move may open up the conversation between medical professionals and politicians. And, of course, it brings the country one step closer to understanding and taking advantage of all this plant has to offer.
President Donald Trump (R)
Perhaps one of the most powerful people who changed their mind about weed, one of the biggest flip-floppers on marijuana policy may be the leader of the free world, Pres. Donald Trump. Stacking his team with anti-marijuana politicians like Jeff Sessions and Chris Christie, the man behind important decisions in the oval office may seem against weed. But in 1990, before his career in politics began, he backed legalization as a method to end the War on Drugs. While on the campaign trail, he backed marijuana as a state’s rights issue. Though he has called medical marijuana a “good” thing, he has not officially stood behind it.
Just recently, President Trump lifted his administration’s plans to target states that have legalized marijuana after the rescission of Obama-era policy that protected states with legal marijuana.
About Those Powerful People Who Changed Their Mind About Weed
Things change. Minds, laws, states, countries—all can’t escape the flow of change. And when it comes to powerful people who changed their mind about weed—generally in favor of it—change is good. In time, hopefully, others will alter their opinions for the better. After all, the grass is greener here on the other side.