Although President Donald Trump has remained mostly quiet on the issue of marijuana up to this point, some believe that could all change in the coming months. The word on the street, at least in the neighborhood of investment firm Piper Jaffray, is that Trump could make marijuana legalization one of his key issues in the 2020 election in order to gain the support of younger voters.
It was during a recent company conference on cannabis policy that analysts said the president would soon throw the marijuana legalization issue over his shoulder, as a way to cinch his reelection. They also believe that the administration will make a few small acts of good faith on the subject before then, perhaps setting federal legalization to take hold sometime in the next two to five years.
“By supporting cannabis, Trump may be able to incrementally broaden his appeal with swing voters without alienating his base,” analyst Michael Lavery said during the meeting.
One of the primary reasons that Trump may finally come out as pro-legalization is that the majority of his Democratic opponents are in favor of this reform. So far the only Democratic candidate to oppose nationwide marijuana legalization is Joe Biden. The former Vice President doesn’t believe anyone should spend time in jail over pot possession, but he’s not a fan of full-scale legalization.
Some Democrats have worried that Trump could swoop in an steal their thunder on the marijuana issue for some time.
Last year, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in his “Blueprint For Federal Marijuana Legalization” that if Democrats do not act on the cannabis issue as part of their 2019 agenda, Trump is going to use it to get reelected.
“If we fail to act swiftly, I fear as the 2020 election approaches, Donald Trump will claim credit for our work in an effort to shore up support — especially from young voters,” he said. “Democrats must seize the moment.”
But Democrats really haven’t seized anything.
The party has had control of the U.S. House of Representatives now for six months and still no significant progress has been made when it comes to marijuana reform. Sure, lawmakers have filed a slew of cannabis-related bills, and there has even been some minute advancements with respect to a marijuana banking bill known as the SAFE Act. But the party is far from showing itself to be the pro-legalization powerhouse that it was supposed to be.
Trump could use this to his advantage, possibly working out a side deal with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the nation on the path to full-blown legalization. McConnell, who championed last year’s farm legislation that moved the country into the realm of legal hemp production, opposes marijuana legalization. But he too is desperate to keep his Senate seat in the 2020 election. There is an opportunity for Democrats to take control of the upper chamber in 2021. If this happens, McConnell’s grim reaper ways will inevitably come crashing down.
Therefore, Trump and McConnell may use marijuana as a way to drum up additional support at the polls.
One thing is sure, as long as Democrats are the ones pushing the marijuana legalization issue, McConnell is not going to entertain its passage. So, don’t expect marijuana reform to go anywhere this year on Capitol Hill. However, this state of inaction gives Trump the perfect opportunity to step in with promises of achieving all of the things that Democrats have so far failed to accomplish.