Justice Stevens: Legalize Pot, 'Fix' 2nd Amendment

By William Peacock, Esq. on April 26, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you could "fix" America, what laws would you pass?

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens has a few ideas, and he's currently making the rounds promoting his new book, Six Amendments. In the book, he proposes six "fixes" to the Constitution including campaign finance reform and ending the death penalty, but one of his reforms in particular is likely to stir up the most controversy: disarmament of civilians.

And his ideas for fixing America don't stop with his book. In an interview with NPR, he discusses another burning issue: marijuana legalization.

Guns for the Militia Only

The Supreme Court famously held in Heller that the text of the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual's right to keep and bear arms generally, not just when serving in the military or a militia. Justice Stevens was one of the dissenting voices in that opinion, and he's still unhappy about it.

His "fix" for the Second Amendment would change the text to add the phrase in italics below:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed."

What would that mean for America's gun owners? It would almost certainly mean more gun control, as there would be no constitutional provision getting in the way of restrictions on gun ownership and possession. It could even mean a complete disarmament of the civilian population.

Marijuana for Everyone

In an interview with NPR, Justice Stevens was asked if the federal government should legalize marijuana.

"Yes," Stevens replied. "I really think that that's another instance of public opinion [that's] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there's a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug."

Currently, marijuana falls into a legal gray area, as it is legal for medical purposes in many states, for recreational use in Washington and Colorado, yet it is illegal on the federal level. For an individual user, federal laws are unlikely to come into play, but for bigger fish such as dispensaries, the conflicting laws can leave business owners in legal limbo, never quite sure if or when the federal government is going to crack down on them for violating drug laws or for tax issues.

What do you think of Justice Stevens' ideas? Do you have any proposed amendments of your own? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

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