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Could Marijuana Legalization Swing Voters To Joe Biden?

Independent and undecided voters support marijuana legalization in key swing states, which could factor into who wins the presidency this November.

Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden announced they would form policy task forces around key issues in the upcoming 2020 election. The news coincided with Sanders formally endorsing Biden, with speculation suggesting Sanders could push Biden toward marijuana legalization. In a recent interview, Sanders declined to include the issue as policies Biden would potentially adopt.

Data suggests that decision might be a mistake, as marijuana legalization could become a key factor in convincing swing voters to Biden’s side. More than two-thirds of the country supports ending cannabis prohibition, Pew Research found. It’s among the few issues that has support across the political spectrum — the majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all believe marijuana should be made legal.

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Cannabis also bridges generational divides among voters, with Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers supporting legalization in majority as well. Only the Silent Generation, or those 75 years and older, does not.

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Photo by Scott Eisen/Stringer/Getty Images

As the Washington Post first pointed out, marijuana legalization is popular in several battleground states that could play a pivotal role in swinging the 2020 election. The polling firm Civiqs has acquired data from 140,000 registered voters over the past several years about issues like marijuana legalization. In every state, 50% of voters or higher said cannabis use should be legal. Minnesota and New Hampshire, both key states in the 2020 election, had 65% and 67% of voters support legalization, respectively.

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This comes into play when you analyze the analytics behind swing voters. UCLA/Nationscape has polled more than 200,000 registered voters since the summer of 2019. Their numbers can pinpoint small, but significant groups like independents who don’t affiliate with either major party, as well as those undecided about choosing Donald Trump or Joe Biden in the election. In over a 2-to-1 margin, those independent and undecided voters back marijuana legalization.

Throughout his campaign, Biden has remained steadfast in his marijuana policy. He will decriminalize the plant and change it to a Schedule II drug in the Controlled Substances Act, allowing scientists to more openly study effects of cannabis consumption. Should he change his mind, it just might help him win the election.

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