Al Franken belatedly gets behind liberalizing marijuana laws


During his days at Saturday Night Live, Franken was a first-hand witness to drug abuse. Now, after polls show most Americans support legalizing marijuana, DFLers have been jumping on the bandwagon. New York Times

In a very funny book published earlier this year, Sen. Al Franken's long passages on drug abuse are still funny, but they're also dark as hell.

When it came to alcohol, the senator apparently grew up in a sort of puritanical family, so his first drink came freshman year of college. After that he started smoking weed and snorting coke throughout his career at Saturday Night Live.

"Senators certainly do a lot less drugs than we did at SNL," Franken wrote. "The truth is that many on the show thought that you can't do a ninety-minute live comedy show week after week without doing cociane."

Then friends became addicts. They ruined friendships, destroyed careers, and overdosed young. Franken swore it all off once enough fell victim; luckily, he wasn't an addictive type.

As a senator he certainly didn't go out of his way to villify drug users, but he also seemed more reluctant to take on pot prohibition than even some of Minnesota's more conservative representatives, scoring a "C" by NORML values.

That's all changing now, as Franken embarks on a marijuana legislation binge.

This month, he introduced a bill to allow states to establish their own medical marijuana laws without federal obstruction, signing on to another that would allow legal weed businesses to bank (right now they're cash-only burglary magnets), and cosponsoring a third to allow marijuana growers and sellers to receive tax credits and deductions for expenditures (like any other small business).

Franken wasn't immediately available for comment. But some have sepeculated that he's coming around like so many of Minnesota's own gubernatorial candidates because he's considering a presidential bid, and all the polls show that most Americans favor marijuana legalization.

Whatever the senator's reasoning for his newfound appetite for marijuana support -- criminal justice, opioid addiction, the tax revenue that comes with regulation, or the science showing pot is far less lethal than alcohol -- he seems to be diving into the work. 

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