Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a 2024 presidential candidate, is again calling for federally legalizing marijuana, opening up banking services for the industry and using cannabis tax revenue to fund drug treatment and rehabilitation centers.
During an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Wednesday, Kennedy, who is running as a Democrat, took a question from a Republican caller who asked him to lay out his position on cannabis policy.
The son of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy reiterated that he wants to make federal legalization, coupled with strategic use of tax revenue, “part of my campaign [and] part of my presidency.”
As he’s disclosed before, Kennedy said that he struggled with addiction to other substances for 15 years in his youth, and he reiterated his concerns about “the proliferation of stimulants and mind-altering substances.” But he also said he believes in “personal freedoms” and considers the current policy of criminalizing and incarcerating people over drugs to be untenable.
“What I’ve advocated is that we should legalize marijuana. We should have a federal tax on the marijuana that is designated specifically for drug treatment and rehabilitation,” he said, adding that “renewal centers” should focus on treating “the rise in mental illness and PTSD and drug addiction that is debilitating our children.”
“We need to start healing our country in many ways,” said Kennedy, who has previously described such centers as places where people could also learning organic farming as a therapeutic tool.
He also voiced support for allowing cannabis businesses to access traditional banking services, saying the status quo has created a cash-intensive industry that “encourages more crime.”
The candidate also keyed in on the C-SPAN caller’s party affiliation, saying he’s “very, very happy that I’m getting supporters on all parts of this political spectrum with just a common sense approach and truth-telling.”
Since entering the presidential race in April, Kennedy has repeatedly promoted his comprehensive drug policy agenda, which he’s previously said would also involve legalizing and taxing certain psychedelics.
After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said in June that he would not move to decriminalize cannabis if he were elected to the White House, drawing criticism from both sides, Kennedy shared on social media a Marijuana Moment article about DeSantis’s comments and contrasted them with his own agenda.
Also that month, he discussed his own 40 years of sobriety during an interview on the podcast “Club Random with Bill Maher,” declining Maher’s offer to smoke with him on the show. He didn’t appear to mind the host’s indulgence over the course of the chat, however.
Image element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.