Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., embraced medical marijuana use in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun on Thursday, becoming the latest in a series of public figures whose attitudes have reflected a broader political shift toward more permissive marijuana laws.
“If you’d asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer – I would have said no, because (marijuana) leads to other stuff, but I can’t say that any more,” Reid told the Sun when he was asked about several municipal governments in Nevada that have issued moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries.
“I think we need to take a real close look at this,” he added. “I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana.”
Nevada voters approved a referendum in 2000 that legalized medical marijuana in the state.
Reid explained his change of opinion by pointing to news reports and personal stories about people whose illnesses were relieved by medical marijuana.
Without naming names, he cited the son of a Las Vegas elected official who lost both of his kidneys due to kidney failure.
“He was so skinny and doing so poorly, and somebody told him and his mom, you know, you should smoke some marijuana, because one of the side effects is … you get the munchies, you get extremely hungry,” Reid said. “He tried it, and sure enough, he was able to eat for the first time, he got hungry. So I thought, you know there might be some medical reasons for taking another look at this.”
Still, Reid would not weigh in on the question of recreational marijuana use.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I just think that we need to look at the medical aspects of it.”
Currently at least 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, recognize some form of legal marijuana use for medicinal purposes. And in two states, Colorado and Washington, marijuana was recently legalized for recreational use.