A member of the U.S. Supreme Court just hinted that she has hung out in the presence of people smoking marijuana.
“I used to be invited to [parties] where [I] don’t know the host,” Justice Elena Kagan said. “And can I say that long, long ago, marijuana was maybe present at those parties?”
While Kagan didn’t admit to consuming cannabis herself, it is nonetheless a noteworthy acknowledgment that highlights marijuana’s growing acceptance among people of prominence in government and broader society.
Marijuana, while legal for recreational use in eight states and allowed for medical purposes in 29 states, remains prohibited under federal law.
Kagan’s admission came during an oral argument on Wednesday in a case concerning the propriety of arrests by police in certain instances.
District of Columbia v. Wesby stems from a 2008 incident in which local police responded to noise complaints about a house party. When cops arrived on the scene, partygoers asserted that they had permission to be there from a woman named “Peaches,” who herself told police that the property owner had leased her the house. But the owner then informed police that that wasn’t the case, and the cops arrested those present.
Some of those partygoers then sued police for unlawful arrest, winning in both district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The dispute essentially centers on whether the partiers should have reasonably known they weren’t supposed to be on the property and whether it was appropriate for police to arrest them given the assertion that they thought they were properly invited to be at the house.
Connecting her remarks about being in the presence of marijuana consumption to the case at hand, Kagan said, “It just is not obvious that the reasonable partygoer is supposed to walk into this apartment and say: Got to get out of here. And it seems a little bit hard that they’re subject to arrest.”
The politics of marijuana have shifted considerably since Judge Douglas Ginsberg was forced to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 after his prior cannabis use was revealed.