Nationwide marijuana reform will get some attention in 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the new king of Capitol Hill, says cannabis will get a fair shake this year once the session gets moving. Although the Senate has experienced a few hiccups so far as Schumer and minority leader Mitch McConnell have attempted to negotiate a power-sharing agreement, those issues appear to be resolved for the most part, and the upper chamber is finally going to work. Although there’s a lot of crucial issues that must be dealt with early on, Schumer says marijuana reform continues to be a high priority for Democrats in 2021.
During a recent interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Schumer alluded that this reform would be a part of a much larger racial justice initiative. “There’s lots to do, and we have to succeed,” he said. However, contrary to Schumer’s comments last year, the legislation probably will not call for full steam ahead marijuana legalization. Instead, it will likely follow the Democratic Party’s platform, which states that they “will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level.” It also says they will get behind the legalization of medical marijuana and continue to allow states to do their thing with respect to adult use.
It looks like cannabis advocates can expect to see at least some modest pot reforms being discussed in Congress this year. There was some concern early on that the Democrats’ slim majority in Congress might prevent progress from taking shape. Part of the problem is that the Democrats still need Republican votes to get anything to pass. They’ve lost some seats in the House, which has made it a little more difficult for them to control the room. And the Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaker.
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As much as it hurts to say, the Democrats will need minority leader Mitch McConnell to rally the Republican votes necessary to approve anything substantial. Whether he’ll play ball remains to be seen. McConnell has stated that the two parties need to work together, but his attitude might change when presented with anything pertaining to pot. It’s no secret that McConnell loathes marijuana.
Furthermore, President Biden will probably be pretty strict when it comes to what pot-related measures he’ll get behind. He’s not likely to support full blown legalization. Still, the president seems more than eager to support legislation that deals with racial justice. He said during his campaign that he doesn’t believe anyone should go to jail for pot. Therefore, marijuana decriminalization is sure to be met with a signature if Congress can manage to get a bill on his desk.
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Although Vice President Harris is a supporter of ending prohibition, she has said that she would not pressure Biden to take her side. We should probably expect the federal government to take baby steps on this increasingly prevalent issue if they can find a way to get anything accomplished at all. But America wants a change. Some of the latest Gallup polls show that more than 60% of the population thinks marijuana should be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol.