Over the past few decades, public support for marijuana legalization has increased dramatically. So it’s not surprising that many powerful people have also changed their minds about cannabis reform as well. But there are a few influential people whose change of heart is particularly noteworthy.
Here are seven influential Americans who changed their views on marijuana:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was never a super ardent anti-marijuana advocate like some politicians. But he was never a supporter of the issue. That is, until last year when Schumer spearheaded an effort to create a bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. While his bill will likely not receive a vote while Republicans control the Senate, he’s still putting in effort to make changes to marijuana laws.
2. John Boehner
Former Speaker of the House John Boehner was part of the Republican Party establishment that pushed prohibitionist policies and prevented most legislation related to marijuana reform from receiving votes in the House of Representatives. Since leaving Congress, he’s made a 180 and now supports marijuana legalization and even serves on the board of a cannabis company. Too bad he didn’t change his mind before leaving office.
3. John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper may now be seen as one of the great champions of marijuana legalization through his position as Governor of Colorado. But Hickenlooper actually opposed the effort to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2012. Now he’s embraced the effort and wants more states to follow in Colorado’s footsteps.
4. Dianne Feinstein
Senator Feinstein was often criticized by liberals in the Democratic Party for pushing anti-legalization views and policies, despite representing one of the most progressive marijuana states in California. But last year Feinstein finally decided to support legalization efforts and for the federal government to not interfere in legalized states.
5. Kamala Harris
Feinsten’s fellow California Senator Kamala Harris also opposed marijuana legalization efforts while serving as the state’s Attorney General. However, she’s reversed her opinion over the past year and often speaks out in favor of legalization. And if she ends up becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, that could be a major development for legalization.
6. Eric Holder
As Attorney General under President Obama, Holder initially said that the Department of Justice would continue prosecuting marijuana cases when states began considering legalization. Holder slightly lessened those restrictions and agreed to allow legal states to operate as long as they followed certain conditions. Now Holder often talks openly about the need to change our nation’s cannabis laws, especially as he considers running for president in 2020.
7. David Stern
David Stern is the former commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). During his three decade long tenure in that position, he actually tightened the league’s policies preventing players from using marijuana. However, since leaving that position, he’s actually advocated for the NBA to allow players to use cannabis. Too bad he didn’t feel that way when he was still in power.