Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens believes marijuana should be legalized by the federal government, predicting that the public will soon decide prohibiting the substance is "not worth the cost."
In a Thursday interview with NPR's Scott Simon, the retired justice was asked if he believes the drug should be legal at the federal level.
"Yes," Stevens said. "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."
Recent polling has shown that most Americans agree with Stevens. Last October, a Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans are in favor of legalization, marking the first time in the poll a clear majority has been in favor of legal pot. And in a Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month, 75 percent of respondents said they believe legalization is inevitable.
"Justice Stevens is right. Public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. "Polls now consistently show that a clear majority of the public supports ending prohibition and, as this trend continues, we'll start to see more prominent people and politicians saying it's time to change the laws."
Stevens, who stepped down from the bench in 2010, is currently promoting his new book, Six Amendments, in which he details the changes he would make to the U.S. Constitution. Among his proposals are abolishing the death penalty, imposing stricter campaign finance reforms and changing the Second Amendment to allow tougher gun control laws.
This post has been updated to include Angell's statement.