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Happy Birthday President Jimmy Carter, A Revolutionary on Marijuana Decriminalization

former president jimmy carter marijuana

Happy Birthday to a President Who Served Well Before His Time

Happy 96th Birthday to the ‘rock and roll’ President Jimmy Carter. He was the first sitting president to call for the decriminalization of marijuana during his term.

Feature photo source: Flickr

It’s bizarre to think that we ever lived in a time when marijuana legalization was not a hot topic in the corridors of power and media, but back then, it was a foreign concept that most shied upon.

Administrations Before Carter and the War on Drugs

Carter’s immediate predecessors Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon in different ways maintained strict anti-cannabis policies during their administrations. Where Nixon declared a full crackdown on drugs, Ford’s approach was less invasive. 

Nixon’s War On Drugs

On June 17th 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared a war on drugs during a press conference where he identified drug abuse as “public enemy number one in the United States” and launched a failed, vicious and expensive federal war on Americans who enjoyed the green leaf.

Ford’s Moderate Stance on Marijuana

Richard Ford, on the other hand, took a more moderate stance on marijuana and drug use where he spoke of drug users as victims of traffickers, rather than criminals. His policies, however, did not weaken the federal cannabis policy and this would inevitably lead to his loss in the 1976 elections. 

Jimmy Carter’s Presidency 

Running under the umbrella of the Democratic Party, Jimmy Carter was declared the 39th president of the United States where he served for one term from 1977 to 1981. His stance on cannabis legalization was simple, that the penalties for cannabis use should not outweigh the actual harms of cannabis consumption. 

Oregon was the First to Decriminalize Cannabis in 1973

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize Cannabis back in 1973 and President Carter would speak of this triumph and his support for the move any chance he got. A few months into office, Carter was boldly showing his support for decriminalization of cannabis, substituting imprisonment with civil fines, and all-together eliminating federal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis.

The wheels of marijuana legalization started turning from Carter’s bold stance and almost half a century later, the light at the end of the tunnel is within reach.  

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Jimmy Carter Talks About His Son Smoking Marijuana With A Rock-and-Roll Legend at The Whitehouse

Jimmy Carter was known as the rock and roll president because of his love for the genre which was not conventional for a peanut farmer and Southern Baptist like himself.

 “Music is the best proof that people have one thing in common no matter where they live, no matter what language they speak,” he told producers.

Jimmy Carter and the Rock and Roll President Documentary

In a new documentary dubbed ‘Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President’ hitting the box office soon, Carter comes clean on a secret only his son, Willie Nelson and himself were privy to. Turns out, one of his sons shared a roll with Willie Nelson at the White House during his administration. 

“When Willie Nelson wrote his autobiography, he confessed that he smoked pot in the White House and he says that his companion was one of the servants of the White House,” Carter said, as CelebStoner first reported. “It actually was one of my sons.”

Trump and Biden’s Stances on Marijuana Legalization Today

It is 2020 and most Americans are just about done with the prohibition laws against cannabis. With the presidential elections right around the corner, all hopes for the legalization of marijuana lie squarely on the person who takes up office next year and it is looking somewhat bleak on both ends.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s stances on marijuana

On one end, Joe Biden remains one of the very few Democrats who hasn’t jumped on the legalization of cannabis at a federal level bandwagon. On the other hand, Trump has shown his support of legalization in the past but remained mute about the matter after taking office with very questionable decisions after.

The latest Pew research findings on marijuana legalization showed that 67% of Americans support the motion. 

Joe Biden on the “Gateway Drug”

Joe Biden has, however, time and time again refrained from endorsing the legalization of cannabis which he terms as a ‘gateway drug’. He maintains that he supports the federal decriminalization of marijuana, which would maintain fines but do away with prison or jail time for possession, but remains opposed to full legalization.

Just last year in Las Vegas, the Democratic front-runner maintained his longtime opposition to the legalization of marijuana.

Joe Biden Support Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana

“No, it hasn’t changed. I think, look, I think states should be able to make a judgement to legalize marijuana. I think that’s okay. But let me tell ya, the truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that’s been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It’s a debate,” he said.

Donald Trump is an Enigma on Marijuana Legalization

His Republican counterpart Donald Trump has been an enigma on the topic of legalization thus far. Trump had raised people’s hopes on the legalization of marijuana after he said to reporters that he supported a bipartisan bill which would allow states to set their own marijuana policies.

Trump’s Pro-Marijuana Remarks and Marijuana Legalization Opponent as Attorney General

Contrary to his pro-marijuana remarks, however, one of his first acts after becoming president was appointing Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, a well-known opponent of marijuana legalization as his Attorney General. Sessions, in turn, wasted no time in destabilizing the Cole Memo established under the Obama administration that generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

Will Marijuana Become Legalized at Federal Level?

As we’re in the homestretch of the elections, only time will tell whether the person sitting in the Oval Office come January will be as revolutionary in the fight for the legalization of cannabis as the likes of Carter before him.


About Shirlyn

Shirlyn is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She writes for our Marijuana News section. She also has working experience in news presenting, production and social media. Reach her at [email protected].