Former Senator Battles the War on Drugs with Sort-Of Legal Drugs

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Former Senator Battles the War on Drugs with Sort-of Legal Drugs

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not easing regulations on the war on drugs and allowing marijuana use specifically will send our country into a “Reefer Madness” level of drugged out anarchist hysteria, would a former senator heading up a company that manufactures and sells marijuana products give the plant more cred?

Meet former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), who is taking his career in quite another direction from his years on Capitol Hill. Gravel, a longtime critic of the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition, was recently appointed as the new CEO of a cannabis company marketing products infused with marijuana both for medicinal and recreational use.

The two-term senator served between 1969-1981 and ran for president in 2008. He also has been an outspoken supporter of marijuana legalization and “a staunch critic of the decades-long war on drugs,” the Huffington Post reports.

Gravel may be best known for a 1971 filibuster where he read the Pentagon Papers, first released by Daniel Ellsberg, during a meeting of his Senate Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee. “Gravel was able to enter the remaining thousands of pages from the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record -- thereby ensuring they would be public before the Supreme Court could rule on whether or not the controversial documents could be published in the press,” the Post explains.

“The Alaskan Democrat and 2008 presidential contender will lead KUSH, a subsidiary owned by Cannabis Sativa, Inc. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson serves as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, and Gravel is on that company's board of directors,” the Huffington Post reported. “KUSH will develop and market new marijuana-infused products under Gravel's leadership, the company said in a press release.”

"I feel very deeply about the failure that is marijuana prohibition," Gravel told the Huffington Post as one of the reasons why he took his new job. "Nixon is the one that put marijuana into a Schedule I. People forget that story, I lived through that. I thought it was horrible."

Marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 substance back in 1970 when President Nixon was the first in office to declare the “war on drugs” that many experts say has spiraled out of control and been largely ineffective at anything more than jamming the nation’s prisons without curbing drug use.

Medical use of marijuana is currently legal in 23 states even though it’s still illegal under federal regulations. In recent years, though, federal prosecutors have been directed to leave state marijuana operations in tact. Now, several states including Gravel’s Alaska, have made recreational use of marijuana legal as well. It's also legal in Colorado, Washington and Oregon just passed a voter referendum last November lifting the state's ban on recreational use.

"Where we have cannabis legal today is where the people have spoken," Gravel said in the Post. "The people know better than their leaders, that's what's going on here."

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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