Over the past decade, Massachusetts has been one of the states at the forefront of the pro-marijuana movement. But one of the state’s rising political stars is not on board.

“This one is a tough one for me, because my views do not exactly line up with my own state, and it’s something that I’m struggling with,” Rep. Joe Kennedy III said in a podcast interview this week with Vox.com’s Ezra Klein.

Even as he has seen his national profile continue to rise, the 37-year-old Democratic congressman has taken heat from the left over his opposition to marijuana legalization (including for medical purposes), which has become increasingly popular both within his party and across the country. After he was tagged to deliver his party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in January, pro-marijuana outlets scoured Kennedy’s voting history in the House and found that he was among the few Democratic representatives who consistently voted against even mildly pro-marijuana bills — even measures that many Republicans supported.


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) gives Kennedy a D grade, which is tied for the lowest grade among the groups’ scorecard for Massachusetts’ all-Democrat congressional delegation.

“I don’t think marijuana should be legalized,” Kennedy flatly told Boston magazine in 2016, two months before the Massachusetts voters approved a referendum to do just that.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have now moved to legalize recreational marijuana. As Massachusetts nears the full enactment of its voter-approved law, Kennedy says it’s his job to “take a deep breath”  — though not necessarily inhale.

“We just gotta be thoughtful about this,” he told Klein. “It’s not something where I wanna get in a position where you kind of rush through, because clearly public opinion is on one side

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