Moderate Democrats feared the MORE Act could hurt their chances at the ballots, but a bipartisan majority supports passage of the bill.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a bill that would decriminalize cannabis nationwide and expunge marijuana records. But moderate Democrats successfully convinced party members not to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act until after the 2020 Election.
Their reason? Concern over how it would affect U.S. voter perception.
Congress has yet to approve a new stimulus package and pushing cannabis legislation through could alienate some voters. Republicans lawmakers vociferously attacked the scheduled MORE Act, too, with one GOP Representative labeling the bill “No Joint Left Behind.”
We are dealing with a pandemic and mob violence is terrorizing major cities – so what’s first up on Speaker Pelosi’s agenda after a long House recess?
No Joint Left Behind – A bill legalizing pot! https://t.co/NYYsSRLEpW
— Rep. Ken Calvert (@KenCalvert) August 31, 2020
Moderate Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike may have been mistaken, according to a new poll. A majority of both Republican and Democrat voters support passage of the MORE Act, data shows. Only Independent voters didn’t favor the bill’s passage, although that may be more due to a lack of knowledge—29% of Independent voters said they don’t know what the MORE Act is.
Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative Institute conducted the polling, surveying 1,212 likely national voters. Their numbers showed 59% of voters, which included 53% of Republicans, support passing the MORE Act. A bipartisan majority also favored treating drug use as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice act, and believe the federal government should legalize the possession and sale of marijuana.
“The decision to push back a vote on the MORE Act not only calls Democrats’ prioritization of racial and criminal justice into question, but it also shows a complete disregard for the will of the majority of the American people who are ready for reform,” said the Justice Collaborative in a statement. “Failing to pass legislation decriminalizing marijuana use could be an electoral risk come November.”
Neither party has established itself as a home for cannabis-focused voters. President Donald Trump told Republicans to keep cannabis reform off the ballots if they want to win the election this year. And presidential nominee Joe Biden has pushed Democrats away from legalization as an official party platform, instead favoring decriminalization and rescheduling. Recently, vice president pick Kamala Harris promised a Biden-Harris Administration would take no half-steps on cannabis, and then promised another half-step.