Harry Reid Evolves on Marijuana

Posted January 16, 2014 at 6:25pm

Majority Leader Harry Reid’s position on legalizing medical marijuana has evolved.

The Nevada Democrat told the Las Vegas Sun’s Karoun Demirjian in an interview Thursday that his views on legalizing medical marijuana have changed.

“If you’d asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer – I would have said no, because (marijuana) leads to other stuff,” Reid told the Sun. “But I can’t say that anymore.”

“I think we need to take a real close look at this,” Reid went on. “I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana.”

When the topic was broached in the interview, Reid, who is a Mormon, quipped, “I’ve never tried it.”

But he described people he knew who had been helped by the drug, including the son of a Las Vegas elected official with kidney failure.

Reid demurred when asked about broader legalization.

But he questioned the value of prosecuting marijuana users.

“I guarantee you one thing,” Reid said. “We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana.”

While Reid has evolved, not all of his colleagues agree. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ripped the Obama administration for mixed messages on enforcing the law in states like Colorado, which has legalized the drug.

“Law enforcement officers in Iowa are reporting increases in marijuana coming to Iowa from Colorado,” he said. “The Obama Administration’s decision not to prioritize the prosecution of the large-scale trafficking and sale of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado will contribute to these problems. …I appreciate the challenges facing law enforcement in dealing with the mixed messages on marijuana being sent by the Obama Administration and some states.”