Why Douglas Henry Once Tried Pot To Make A Point Against Legalization

Mar 6, 2017

Douglas Henry was still early in his Senate career when the subject of legalizing marijuana came up.

The Nashville Democrat, who died late Sunday night at age 90, had no experience with cannabis. So he decided to rectify that the only way he knew how.

He bought a joint.

"I got some marijuana and puffed it in a hotel room," Henry recalled in a January interview, "and I sure wouldn't want me driving a car in that condition. I'd run into somebody.

"I'd wreck."

It was that fear of creating impaired drivers that convinced Henry to support reduced penalties for marijuana possession — but not legalization.

Still, he wasn't shy about sharing the anecdote. Henry told the story of his illicit high during a televised debate over legalization that aired in March of 1977. It would be repeated countless times by others as the quintessential Douglas Henry story.

The only detail he wouldn't share — even four decades later — was where he got that joint.  All he would say was that it wasn't in Tennessee.

Douglas Henry's appreciation for his state ran so deep that he wouldn't knowingly break one of its laws — not even to make a point.