Democrats' Midterm Strategy Should Include Cannabis Legalization, Here's Why

Midterm elections are coming up in 2022, and the race is heating up.

On a stormy political horizon, both sides are looking at how to overcome voters' anger over inflation and Covid.

Democrats' midterm strategy seems to be coming into a clearer view, as a recent poll found that most of its members believe that legalizing cannabis should be a top or important priority for Congress, writes Marijuana Moment.

The survey from Morning Consult and Politico – which asked registered voters about 13 different issues  – revealed that four out of ten voters overall said ending marijuana prohibition should be prioritized.

Released on Wednesday, the survey involved interviews with 2,005 registered voters from April 8-11, with a margin of error of +/- two percentage points.

Even though cannabis reform wasn't the top issue the respondents, in general, think that lawmakers should be pursuing – naming reducing the federal deficit, health care, and economic recovery from the pandemic are top concerns – it is interesting that almost half of the country views marijuana legalization as a priority,  and that a majority of voters in the party that controls both chambers of Congress and the White House do so.

Cannabis As 'Top Priority'

For 19% of voters, legalization of the plant is a "top priority," while an additional 22% think it's an "important, but lower priority." In addition, 20% of those surveyed said that Congress shouldn't move to end prohibition.

Interestingly, 63% of black voters said Congress needs to act on reform, with roughly half thinking it should be a top priority.

Considering that 52% of people who identify as or lean Democrat say cannabis legalization should be a top or important congressional priority, it's clear how Democrats should set their priorities to avoid losing their majority in at least one chamber.

On the other hand, nearly a third of those surveyed, both Republican or Republican-leaning voters, feel the same.

The growing acceptance of cannabis among Americans is evident as another survey - conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online from April 1 to 5 – showed that Republicans are evenly split on the issue of marijuana legalization, with 46% supporting, and 46% opposing it, while 72% of Democrats aksed are likely to support the change.

According to that survey, two-thirds of Americans would like to see marijuana legalized, while 57% would support expunging marijuana-related convictions, and 51% would back allowing banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

Cannabis Legalization Efforts

In the meantime, one of the fierce Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is working on passing his cannabis legalization measure through the evenly split Senate. In doing so, he faces Republican opposition as one of the biggest challenges.

Schumer recently revealed that in a joint effort with his colleagues, he plans to reach out to Republican senators to find out what "they want" to see included in a bill to legalize cannabis federally.

So far, Schumer contacted two out of nine GOP co-sponsors of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act – which ensures financial institutions can serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal - Alaska's Republican senators - Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

Democrats also sought assistance from senators in February to complete the marijuana legalization bill expected to be filed in April. With Schumer at the helm, they circulated a letter asking their colleagues to weigh in on the bill's provision to finalize the drafting process.

"We hope to do that towards the end of April," Schumer confirmed in remarks following the House of Representatives passing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3617, on April 1.

That bill, as well as Schumer's Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

However, to put the legislation into law, Democrats would need the backing of all of their members and at least 10 Republicans.

In the meantime, anti-legalization sentiment among GOP senators is casting doubt on the whole process, while reservations regarding adult-use cannabis are evident even across the aisle, within lines of Schumer's fellow Democrats, which he aspires to unify on a path forward to legalization.

Photo: Courtesy of Tim Foster on Unsplash

Posted In: cannabis legalizationChuck SchumerDemocratsMarijuana MomentRecreational MarijuanaCannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsMarketsGeneral

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