Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has made waves as the youngest woman to serve in Congress and her openly socialist policies. Ocasio-Cortez, often known by her initials AOC, has also firmly presented herself as an ally to ending federal prohibition of marijuana.
Earlier this month, AOC tapped former cannabis lobbyist and Marijuana Policy Project director of federal policies Dan Riffle to be her senior counsel and adviser. The 29-year-old legislator has also publicly supported federal marijuana legalization and the release of individuals in jail for non-violent drug offenses.
Legalizing cannabis and addressing those imprisoned by the war on drugs must be part of the same conversation. https://t.co/VS27tKqNIA
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2018
She also appears to have made an ally in Rep. Matthew Gaetz (R-FL), a well-known advocate for expanding access and research for medical marijuana. In a retweet of the news that AOC had brought Riffle on staff, Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “#LegalizeIt, and demand justice for communities ravaged by the War on Drugs.”
That sentiment caught the eye of Gaetz, who responded via retweet, “You had me at hello.”
You had me at hello. https://t.co/LqgYnl6rHl
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 10, 2019
As two millennial lawmakers, both of whom are loathed by the establishment in their parties, they could lead a bipartisan charge for legalization despite their party differences. CNN hinted their joint interest in legalization and working together could stem from their millennial status, as a 2018 Pew poll showed that 74 percent of millennials supported legalization, a figure that’s significantly lower for older generations.
“Instead of chasing after committee positions that don’t matter, and instead of authoring dust bin bills with no chance of passage, the two should team up immediately,” wrote Washington Examiner columnist Philip Wegmann. “Despite their many ideological differences, there are enough areas the two agree upon where they could make legislation happen.”
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But Ocasio-Cortez has made at least one thing clear: she will be a firm ally of marijuana legalization in Washington. With key legislation like the STATES Act and the Gaetz’s Medical Cannabis Research Act hanging in the balance, Ocasio-Cortez’s voice could help push those bills through.