More Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana than ever before.
The Washington Post reported last March that while only 19 percent of Americans favored legalization in 1973, that number soared to 52 percent last year. But while some pro-marijuana advocates are fairly obvious (Tommy Chong, anyone?), some more surprising additions are also being thrown to the mix.
Clergy for a New Drug Policy, launched by Chicago pastor Rev. Al Sharp, has both protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis in its organization. They support taxing and regulating legal marijuana, greater access to medical marijuana for those who qualify and drug treatment over prison.
“It’s a bigger issue than making marijuana legal. My position is that it’s more important for us to be healing these people,” said Rev. Tom Capo, pastor of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, IL.
“We need to offer them assistance, drug rehab, so they can put their lives back together. Putting them in prison does not stop people from using drugs. It just isolates them from the rest of society.”
Here are five other surprising pro-marijuana advocates that have spoken out in recent years:
The highly mainstream singer has taken a radical approach to drug use, urging the government to legalize all substances. He believes this will benefit the health and safety of drug users so “they'll have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that just sell it under the table.”
Beck, best known as a host on Fox News, has advocated for legalizing marijuana in order to quell violence at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We either put people smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us,” he said. “Fifty percent of the money going to these cartels is coming from marijuana coming across our border.”
The notoriously conservative host of The 700 Club shocked many of his followers by coming out in support of legalizing marijuana in March 2012, believing it would help reduce rising costs in the U.S. prison system.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” he said. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but…this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
This conservative lawmaker from Texas actually used the Bible for his pro-pot campaign earlier this year. He introduced a bill last March that would remove any reference to marijuana from Texas law, declaring that "what’s so incredible to me is that we want to eliminate something that God made.”
Although Palin said she didn’t want marijuana to be legalized, she also believes it’s a “minimal issue” that government shouldn’t hold such a stake in.
"I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts," she said in June 2010. "If somebody's gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems that we have in society."
Learn more about the effects of marijuana abuse.
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