Former Democratic lawmaker says decriminalizing marijuana would do country 'real service'

Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle (D) said on Wednesday that decriminalizing marijuana would do the country a “real service,” and allow for greater medical research on the issue going forward.

Daschle, who now sits on the board of directors at the Center for American Progress, said he is not in favor of legalizing nationwide cannabis at the moment, but he does support decriminalization on a federal level.

“We’ve got to be concerned about the misinformation — both on the recreational as well as on the medical side and taking it off of Schedule I to allow us research on both sides would do the country a real service,” he told Hill.TV.

 Daschle also sits on an an advisory board for cannabis-focused investment firm Northern Swan. He said moving towards decriminalization and allowing for more research would also help address concerns raised by critics around the safety of cannabis.

“There ought to be a good regulatory structure but we’ve got to have that in order to answer the questions that he’s raised,” he said referring to comments made by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who warned that new strains of marijuana are more dangerous than those developed a decade ago.

Marijuana is currently considered a Schedule I substance, which the Drug Enforcement Administration defines as drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.

Daschle’s comments come as support for marijuana legalization hits a record high.

According to CBS News poll released in April, 65 percent of Americans believe the substance should be legal.

—Tess Bonn