Senate Majority Leader Supports Medical Marijuana

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The U.S. Senate’s top Democrat came out in support of medical marijuana this week and said law enforcement resources are wasted on marijuana enforcement.

“I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the Las Vegas Sun Thursday, saying his position on the topic has evolved. Reid cited news segments on the dramatic medical benefits to children with seizures of consuming marijuana, and personal experiences with a friend’s son who, after suffering from kidney failure, was able to develop an appetite for the first time in months after smoking marijuana.

“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 said. “But I can’t say that anymore.”

On full-scale recreational legalization, Reid said, “I don’t know about that. I just think that we need to look at the medical aspects of it.” But he did criticize the current regime of criminalizing marijuana crimes.

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

Nevada has a medical marijuana law that was passed by ballot initiative in 2000, although several cities including Las Vegas have imposed moratoria on dispensing marijuana. Reid did not address the conflict between the federal Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits marijuana for all purposes, and his state’s medical marijuana law. While several marijuana reform bills have been introduced in the House, including one that would exempt from federal enforcement those complying with a state marijuana law, none have been proposed in the Senate.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also expressed some support for medical marijuana.