California could be one of the next states to legalize marijuana, and Isabel Allende is all for it. The acclaimed Chilean-American author and longtime California resident says pot legalization should “absolutely” go forward in her adoptive state.
“Our prisons are full of people who are in jail because of marijuana, and marijuana is not more dangerous than tobacco or alcohol,” Allende told Fusion at the White House on Monday, where she received a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Allende, who fled her native Chile after a 1973 military coup ousted the socialist government led by her father’s cousin, Salvador Allende, and brought Augusto Pinochet to power, has lived in the San Francisco Bay area for decades. The award-winning author of celebrated novels including “House of Spirits” and “Paula” became a U.S. citizen in 1993.
Allende said she fully supports the legalization of marijuana. “It can be controlled, just as alcohol is,” she said. “They should be paying taxes. So why not?”
She also spoke about President Obama’s recently announced reforms to the immigration system, which could shield up to 5 million people from deportation.
“This has been something that is impossible to postpone any longer,” she said. “Too many people, too many families, have been separated; too much suffering.”
Marijuana found its way into Allende’s 2008 memoir, “The Sum of Our Days” about life in California after the death of her daughter.
Allende says that she smoked marijuana with her mother in an effort to increase her creativity. “After nine spliffs and no discernible effect other than a lot of giggling, she decides soft drugs are not for her,” The Telegraph wrote in a review of the book.
She also tells of ingesting the psychedelic drug ayahuasca, traditionally used by Amazon Indians, getting sick for a few days and then coming to the conclusion that “the material world is an illusion.”