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Rep. Joe Kennedy Explains Decision To Call For Federal Marijuana Legalization

BOSTON (CBS) - Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-4th District) has changed his mind.

Kennedy, until recently an unyielding opponent of marijuana legalization, explains in an interview with WBZ-TV Wednesday that the steady progress toward legalization in Massachusetts and elsewhere has become a fait accompli, and the focus now needs to be on avoiding a patchwork quilt of state regulations by dropping federal resistance.

"There needs to be clear federal guidelines and policy around some of these issues, particularly when it comes to advertising, warning labels, dosage, advertising to kids," says Kennedy. "The federal government saying this is solely up to the responsibility of the states I don't actually think is appropriate. There are less federal protections at the moment around marijuana than there are around alcohol or tobacco, and I think if we are going to say that this should be legalized the federal government should come in and set those guidelines."

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Jon Keller talks to Rep. Joe Kennedy III. (WBZ-TV)

Rep. Kennedy also had strong words for President Trump's apparent decision to forego any punishment of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over what the CIA says is clear evidence that he ordered the recent gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The idea that the president of the United States is going to ignore the assessment put forth by our intelligence agencies and cast his own lot with the words uttered by the Crown Prince and the Saudi Royal Family is bizarre, it's disappointing," Kennedy said. "The US's word should be worth more than that…. The idea that we would somehow turn the other way when an individual living in the US is murdered going in to get information to be able to get married abroad is stunning. You shouldn't be able to buy us off just because you've got a business deal."

And on the controversy currently roiling Democrats in Washington over whether or not to return House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the speakership when Democrats regain control of the chamber in January, Kennedy made it clear he's firmly in Pelosi's corner, despite opposition from Massachusetts delegation colleagues Seth Moulton and Stephen Lynch.

"We have this extraordinary opportunity in the Democratic caucus to try to actually deliver on some promises, hold the administration accountable, but recognize that we aspire to be a big tent party and you gotta find ways to build that consensus, empower our members, and unify behind values and policies. There is nobody who is better at doing that than Nancy Pelosi, period," he said.

You can watch the full interview with Rep. Kennedy Sunday morning at 8:30 on the WBZ-TV Morning News.

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