A former U.S. attorney whose job it once was to enforce federal marijuana laws now says Michigan, which he is running to represent as attorney general, should legalize cannabis.
“As many leaders on both sides of the aisle have recognized, the war on drugs has failed,” Pat Miles, a Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday. “The classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug is ridiculous, and has done a great deal of harm to communities in our state and around the country, particularly communities of color. Mass incarceration of people for non-violent drug offenses ruins lives, wastes taxpayer money, and doesn’t address underlying issues.”
Until now, Miles has punted on questions about legalization by saying it is up to voters. In an interview last year, he said it “may be more prudent” to wait until the federal government acts on marijuana before further changing the state’s cannabis laws.
While I've said that this issue is up to the voters, which it most certainly is, I've reviewed the language of the ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and find it to be thoughtful and well-written, and I support it. Read more: https://t.co/0YuMZMoCb7 2/2
— Pat Miles (@PatMilesMI) March 7, 2018
Michigan is one of several states that are expected to see marijuana measures on their ballots this year.
Miles, who also reveled in his new statement that he supported the state’s 2008 medical cannabis ballot measure, previously refused to say how he voted on the issue.
Miles’s newfound enthusiasm for legalization comes just days after the release of a poll finding that Michigan likely voters support legalizing marijuana, 61%-35%.
“After careful consideration, and dialogue with activists and voters across the state, I’ve decided to take a stronger stance on marijuana legalization,” he said in the statement. “While I’ve said so far that this issue is up to the voters of Michigan, which it most certainly is, I’ve reviewed the language of the ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and find it to be very thoughtful and well-written, and I support it.”
Fellow Democrat Dana Nessel, who is running against Miles for the party’s nomination for attorney general, called for marijuana legalization in her campaign launch speech last August.
Miles has been accused by some advocates of undermining Michigan’s medical cannabis law as U.S. attorney under the Obama administration.
Delegates at the Michigan Democratic Party’s convention will make an endorsement next month, and voters will decide the party’s nominee for the general election during a primary in August.
Miles’s evolution on marijuana as polling continues to show growing voter support mirrors a similar shift among Democratic contenders in the gubernatorial race in nearby Illinois this month.