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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Now Supports Medical Marijuana

The Nevada senator surprised many when he changed positions in coming out with his support for medical pot, though he remains skeptical about recreational use.

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By Shawn Dwyer

01/21/14

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In a surprising move last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became one of the latest in a series of political figures to show support for medical marijuana. "I think we need to take a real close look at this," he said. "I think that there's some medical reasons for marijuana."

Reid had not supported medical marijuana in the past, but said that recent news reports and personal stories helped sway his opinion. "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," he said. "But I can't say that anymore." The senator relayed one of the personal stories that helped change his mind, citing the son of an unnamed Las Vegas official who lost both kidneys to kidney failure. “He was so skinny and doing so poorly, and somebody told him and his mom… you should smoke some marijuana, because…you get extremely hungry,” Reid said. “He tried it, and sure enough, he was able to eat for the first time, he got hungry.”

"I guarantee you one thing," Reid said. "We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana."

Currently, Nevada is one of 20 states that legalized medical marijuana, passing a ballot measure in 2000 with 65 percent of the vote. But while his opinion has changed on medical pot, Reid isn’t as high on recreational use despite successful legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington. “I don’t know about that,” he said. “I just think that we need to look at the medical aspects of it.”

Reid's change in position came just days before President Barack Obama made news for softening his stance on the drug.

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