Ever since US Attorney General Jeff Sessions launched a virtual crackdown on legal marijuana, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the concept of federal legalization. Lawmakers are pushing a variety of proposals this year in hopes of pulling pot out of the pits of prohibition. Most blame the Republications for a lack in attention to this progressive issue. But it turns out Democrats are as much to blame for not taking legal weed nationwide.
Although California and Nevada have joined the ranks of those states that allow marijuana to be sold in a manner similar to beer, Democratic Senators on Capitol Hill are still squeamish about bringing this reform into the realm of federal policy. A recent report from Roll Call suggests that even those lawmakers representing states with pro-marijuana laws on the books are not willing to fight for this reform on a national scale.
For most of them, it is all about protecting states rights. As long as Sessions does not bring down the hammer on their respective jurisdictions by sending in flood of DEA agents in the name of his federal crackdown, everything will be copasetic. But a lot of these folks have no interest in being a voice for legal marijuana in Washington D.C. These lawmakers have made it clear that they will snap back in the event that the Trump administration gets serious about its war on legal weed, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Sadly, this “as long as everything’s peaceful in my backyard” attitude goes against the grain of the American people. In nearly all of the national polls over the past couple of years, more than 60 percent of the public has agreed that marijuana should be taxed and regulated, the same as alcohol and tobacco. This is a major advancement considering that only about a third of the population supported this reform in 2001.
Marijuana advocates say that Democrats are resistant to changing pot policies at the federal level because many of them are worried about been viewed as “weak on drugs,” and “soft on crime.”
Advocates argue that since the attorney general has taken such a vocal stance against America’s progressive pot laws is exactly why lawmakers should trying to change the law for all.
Some of them are.
Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey has been one of the strongest voices on Capitol Hill for marijuana reform. Last year, he introduced a piece of legislation aimed at ending marijuana prohibition across the nation. He has continued to use his platform to further the cause.
Other lawmakers, including Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are still on the broken record that is “medical marijuana only.”
But there is still not enough like-minded support in the halls of Congress to bring this issue fully into the mainstream. Not this year.