Even though he was instrumental in legalizing industrial hemp a few years back, nothing McConnell has said in the past year suggests that he’s ready to tender his support for pot.
Cannabis advocates who are still optimistic about how Senate Democrats will fare in passing a comprehensive marijuana reform bill later this year should pay close attention to the recent vote on the commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection. That’s where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed America and everyone watching that, regardless of his demotion in the upper chamber, he is still the same blood-thirsty grim reaper of Capitol Hill that he ever was.
Democrats were powerless last week when Senate Republicans destroyed an effort to establish a bipartisan commission to delve deeper into the Capitol attacks. Not only did McConnell prove he still has the clout to rally the troops in a time of need, but also that he possesses a deadly weapon known as the filibuster (an old Senate rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority on controversial issues), and he’s not afraid to use it. All but six Republicans voted against the measure, killing it dead.
McConnell has proved that he is still in control of the Senate, and that spells big trouble for weed.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now left wondering if he has enough weight behind him to further the Democratic agenda. He still has lots to do. All the success the party has relished in so far this year was done through the budget reconciliation process, which only calls for a simple majority to pass. They didn’t need any Republican input to approve President Biden’s massive COVID-relief bill. Nor will they need any help from them to pass additional budget-oriented measures. But as far as anything else, Republicans still have plenty of blocking power.
Despite having the majority, Schumer and crew lost their first real Senate fight. Meanwhile, a popular cannabis legalization bill known as the MORE Act was recently introduced in the House, while the Senate is preparing a similar measure. This legislation would eliminate cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, clear some pot-related criminal convictions and allot a certain percentage of the federal tax revenue to reinvigorate communities most ravaged by the war on weed. The measure passed the House last year but wasn’t even considered in the Senate under McConnell’s leadership. But all hope is not lost.
The most interesting aspect of the vote regarding the January Capitol attacks is that it was a close one. In fact, without McConnell’s opposition to the bill, it would have had the 60 votes needed to win over the Senate. We know that more Republicans are starting to side with the concept of marijuana legalization or, at the very least, decriminalization. The question is: Have enough conservatives changed their tune to cripple the filibuster and advance a cannabis bill with or without the support of McConnell? You can bet Schumer is presently trying to figure out who’s on his side. Still, McConnell seems intent on stopping the Biden Administration at every turn. He recently told the press that “100% of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”
He’s concerned that Biden’s plan means a loss of Democracy.
“We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100 percent of my focus,” McConnell said.
Some aren’t convinced that McConnell’s statement means that he plans to combat every single measure that runs through the upper chamber. But it’s no secret that McConnell is no friend to marijuana. He’s spent much of his career preventing cannabis reform from so much as being discussed in the Senate. Even though he was instrumental in legalizing industrial hemp a few years back, nothing McConnell has said in the past year suggests that he’s ready to tender his support for pot. So, when Schumer finally introduces his long-awaited bill to legalize marijuana nationwide, he’s probably going to have to contend with the wrath of McConnell, the GOP filibuster, and a lot of disappointed cannabis fans.
According to national polling data, most Americans believe the time has come for the federal government to change the country’s marijuana laws.