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In shift, Klobuchar now supports legalizing marijuana

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivers remarks about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during a mark up hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee agreed to an additional week of investigation into accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh before the full Senate votes on his confirmation. A day earlier the committee heard from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who who has accused Kavnaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she now supports legalizing recreational marijuana, a full turn from her stance on the issue from when she first entered the public arena.

Klobuchar, a third-term senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement released Friday that she supports recreational marijuana and believes "that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders.”

The position puts her in line with several other Democrats seeking the party's 2020 nomination. But it is a complete evolution from her first campaign for office. She flatly opposed legalization as a candidate for Hennepin County attorney 20 years ago.

"I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I believe when you look at across the world what's been happening people have realized that legalizing drugs is not the answer," she said in a 1998 debate.

Klobuchar added that she wanted to see fewer lower-level drug offenders and addicts end up in prison and rather out in the community or in treatment.

Even in more recent years, Klobuchar hasn't been among the more vocal proponents of legalization, but she has supported more research on marijuana. In her last re-election campaign for the U.S. Senate, Klobuchar said she supports current medical marijuana laws in Minnesota and opposes attempts by the federal government to interfere with the state's authority to make laws surrounding marijuana.