Democrats will have to find a creative way to get federal marijuana legalization done in the short amount of time they have control or else risk blowing it all together.
Ever since the Democrats took control of Congress this year, the cannabis industry has been excited about the possibility of federal marijuana legalization. Many believe that federal lawmakers will pass legislation in the next few months designed to tax and regulate weed like alcohol. They have it on good authority, too, that it could happen.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the issue is going to be a priority for Senate Democrats this year, and a bill, whatever it consists of, will be introduced soon. Still, as you read this article, the Republicans are scheming and dreaming of taking back the power.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is assembling candidates that can win in the midterm election and put him back on the throne. Therefore, if Democrats want to legalize weed nationwide, they’ll need to do it before the next election. Because unfortunately, there’s a good chance they will lose their power in 2022.
Democrats are in good shape right now. Just this week, they passed a mega COVID-relief bill that’s going to put more money in the hands of Americans and probably save many of them from financial collapse. It’s a big win for the Democrats, and now they’re gearing up for the next one. And that could be federal marijuana legalization. Schumer and crew have already indicated that they will be putting a cannabis-related bill on the table soon “to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
As we mentioned earlier this week, a Senate bill designed to legalize marijuana could see the light of day in April. Although they aren’t talking about it much, the Democrats understand that they must move full steam ahead on this issue if they stand any chance at seeing it through. They are on borrowed time, and they know it. Even with major political wins, like the COVID-relief bill, they will still be challenged to keep control of both the House and Senate next year. So anything they want to get done before then, including legalization, will need to be finalized in a hurry.
The Democrats have such a thin majority on the Hill that it makes hanging onto it even more difficult. The Senate is a 50-50 split (with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker), and they own the House by only nine seats. But some of the old-timers in the Republican party are starting to retire, which is giving the Democrats a bit of an edge for the time being.
Historically speaking, however, the midterms will wreak havoc on the president’s party — Democrats understand this as well. They know that it’s not going to take much for them to lose their clout and forfeit it back to the Republicans. Unless McConnell retires, too, which is possible, he would then step back in and continue his reign of Republican terror like nobody’s business.
And that spells curtains for marijuana. McConnell still hasn’t publicly changed his opinion on legalization.
Without getting into too much political handicapping — it’s still too early for that — let’s just say that time is of the essence for the Democrats to push their agenda and get as much done as possible. Because of how the present division of power falls, they can’t just put a marijuana-bill to a vote and get it done easily. The process of legalizing nationwide will take time to secure the necessary votes, and it will require bipartisan support. There’s no other way around it.
Democrats were forced to eliminate the $15 minimum wage and trim emergency unemployment benefits to make the COVID-relief bill more palatable for Republicans. Legal weed could prove to be a more delicate issue, given the Republicans’ anti-drug attitude. The Dems will have to change some minds or make unwanted concessions. That could spell big trouble.
However, to test the waters, Democrats will likely try to push a marijuana bill through raw dog style, leaving it open to the filibuster. That’s an old Senate rule that puts controversial issues to a supermajority vote rather than just a straight majority. It’s a rule that McConnell wants to keep in play, for obvious reasons, since it keeps him in control of the Senate in some respects even as the minority leader. Any attempt to sabotage the filibuster could cost the Democrats a chance at passing more of Biden’s agenda, and that can’t happen. It won’t happen. So, caution is paramount.
In short, Democrats will have to find a creative way to get federal marijuana legalization done in the short amount of time they have control or else risk blowing it all together. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely this year. Nevertheless, losing one Congressional House next November would be enough to divide the Hill, once more, and halt progress on the cannabis issue for years to come. If ever there was a perfect storm for possibility and nothingness, that time is now.