It takes only a moment to ruin a legacy of informed tolerance. Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States, has flip-flopped. In a reversal of his decades-long support for marijuana legalization, Carter announced this week that he now opposes it. In 1977, while in the White House, Carter called for the decriminalization of possession of cannabis — and just six months ago, he stated that he supported states’ rights to allow citizens to legally buy and grow pot, accusing US drug policy of having “destroyed the lives of millions of young people.”

In December of 2012, Carter told CNN that decriminalizing drugs doesn’t necessarily mean more drug users, saying, “All drugs were decriminalized in Portugal a few years ago and the use of drugs has gone down dramatically and nobody has been put in prison.” He also spoke to Politico, saying, “I have always favored decriminalization and think we should observe what happens in Washington before going further.” And in his very own op-ed piece in the New York Times in 2011, Carter wrote about the “total failure of the present global antidrug effort -- in particular America’s “War on Drugs.”

But on May 17, Carter spoke at an Atlanta, GA meeting attended by state legislators and drug policy officials. “I do not favor legalization," he proclaimed. "We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking.”

Maybe Carter isn't aware that tobacco smokers and drinkers don't get busted and have their lives ruined. He now believes arrests for pot should result in a warning, treatment and health screening. He also predicted that new cannabis laws in Colorado and Washington would prove troublesome.