By Joe Klare (Article courtesy of Joe Klare and The Marijuana Times)

Michael Steele (Matt Houston/AP)

One of the more interesting aspects about following the evolution of the marijuana legalization issue over the last 8 year has been watching conservative Republicans – the cheerleaders of the “just say no” approach to cannabis issues – come around to a different way of thinking. From polls showing a majority of Republicans now favoring marijuana legalization to the journey of former drug war stalwarts like GOP Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) to the side of right – at least when it comes to medical marijuana – the last demographic group standing in the way of marijuana law reform is crumbling before an onslaught of information and facts about cannabis.

Add to this list of converts the name Michael Steele. Many will remember Steele as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2009 to 2011 and as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland before that. In a lengthy interview with Civilized, Steele said he thinks marijuana legalization is coming, and that he doesn’t necessarily think that is a bad thing.

“I’ve always been much more favorably disposed to medical marijuana use, especially after understanding the medicinal aspects of it and certainly having friends and associates who have suffered various illnesses where it was very clear that marijuana was a difference maker for them, day-in and day-out in terms of their pain management and overall wellbeing,” Steele said. “I’ve since evolved to appreciating the broader use of it.”

“I’ve never used it myself,” he added. “I certainly have been in spaces where it has been used frequently. Never partook in it. That’s just not my makeup. But I guess I have a more libertarian view of it. Adults should have the ability to make these choices for themselves, whether it’s for their general pleasure — like, ‘Hey, I just wanna chill’ or ‘I really need this because I’m in pain 24 hours a day.’”

While many conservatives and people who identify as GOP will always think using marijuana is a bad choice and if asked they will advise you against using it, as long as their opinions are no longer enforced by law, it doesn’t matter. Everyone has an opinion on the actions of others, and that’s fine. They are all entitled to that opinion. But as long as what people are doing doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, they are entitled to their freedom to do so, no matter what anyone else might think of their actions.

Joe Klare

http://stonerjesus.net

Joe Klare has been writing about cannabis issues since 2009 for several websites and magazines like Hightimes.com, The420Times.com and The 420 Times Magazine. He has been read by millions of people and his comedic alter ego – Stoner Jesus – can be heard in podcast form at Stonerjesus.net.