Asked if We Should Legalize Marijuana, Here's What a Former Supreme Court Justice Said

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The news: Current justices on the Supreme Court might not be ready to support marijuana legalization yet — but one retired member is.

Just a few years ago, it might have been unthinkable for a member of the country's highest court to speak in favor of a schedule I controlled substance. But John Paul Stevens, who retired from the bench in 2010, is finally saying "yes" — and representing a tidal shift in the American legal community.

Here's what he said:

"I really think that that's another instance of public opinion [that's] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction," Stevens told NPR on Thursday. "Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there's a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug."

Why this matters: The 94-year-old Stevens may no longer be active on the Court, but his comment still carries a lot of weight in the legal community. The self-identified conservative is now the most high-profile judge to speak in favor of marijuana legalization, and he may well be paving the way for younger colleagues to do the same.

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