Sen. Elizabeth Warren Says She’s ‘Open’ to Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

A major change in position for the progressive icon.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stopped by Suffolk University Law School Wednesday night for “Political Happy Hour” with Boston Globe political reporter Joshua Miller. Though Warren made it through the evening without Miller digging up any photos of the second-term senator’s hair of yesteryear, she did make a surprise revision to her stance on legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.

“I’m open to it,” Warren said. “I think we’ve learned more. A couple of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Frankly, I think we ought to be learning what we can from those states. I would encourage more research studies about what happens when you do legalize—you know, what kind of shifts it makes in the economy, what kind of shifts it makes in the culture.”

Warren added that she has pushed the federal government to loosen its restrictions government-paid researchers studying marijuana, which remains a tightly controlled substance despite legalized medical use in 23 states.

Warren’s remarks reveal a fundamental change in position for the Democratic senator. While facing incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in 2012, Warren said that while she would support a public hearing on a ballot question, she opposes the outright legalization of recreational marijuana.

Earlier Wednesday, State Attorney General Maura Healy certified four ballot questions drafted by two different groups, all aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana. Of these, two will likely be posed to voters in 2016.

By reversing her stance, Warren finds herself at odds with Healey, Gov. Charlie Baker, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who have all vowed to oppose legalization. Walsh told Miller in May that he would “absolutely” be willing to lead the opposition.

 

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