We’ve been talking about the legalization of marijuana as a political issue for several years, but the results never come out that strongly for pro-pot politicians at the voting booth. Sure, there are large pockets of legalization at the state level, but very few national politicians, including elected Democrats, have been ready to become stalwart backers of a nationwide legalization policy. Perhaps similar to the issue of same-sex marriage, where we witnessed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both “evolve” on the issue over the years since the 2008 election, the legalization of marijuana is becoming more supported by the general public which means politicians won’t be far behind the curve if they think it means more support at the ballot box.

This story from Dan Merica, at CNN, posits that recent years have shown a larger shift in public opinion, and perhaps some of the 2020 Democratic contenders will become full-throated endorses of decriminalizing pot if they think it will garner support:

The shift has left Democratic operatives and marijuana legalization activists across the country saying it’s difficult to imagine a debate stage in the 2020 primary race where almost all of the presidential hopefuls don’t publicly back removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The latest signal came when Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic candidate who is widely considered a top contender for the nomination in 2020, signed onto The Marijuana Justice Act on Thursday. The bill, proposed by Sen. Cory Booker, himself a 2020 contender, would effectively end the federal crackdown on marijuana by removing the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. It was also backed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another possible 2020 hopeful.

Democratic endorsement of legalization would also be a departure from the party’s 2016 position. Hillary Clinton, the party’s nominee in 2016, said the federal government should allow states to legalize marijuana and called for removing the drug from the schedule 1 list, but did not go so far as to call for its removal from the Controlled Substances Act.

Even just a couple years ago public opinion was pretty soft in opposition to making some changes to how marijuana was classified, yet, as the article mentions, Hillary Clinton stopped short of fully backing legalization in 2016.

So why would Democrats be so skittish on this topic when it appears, in most polling, that legalization is support by a majority of Americans. The answer may trace back to the 1980s and 1990s when the “War on Drugs” was raging and battles were being fought in the voting booth, with Democrats on the losing end:

The wariness around fully supporting marijuana comes despite the fact that public attitudes toward the drug have become more favorable.

In October, a Gallup poll showed 64 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana, up from 58 percent in 2013. Only a third of Americans supported legalization in 2001.

Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said many Democrats are afraid of being seen as weak on drugs.

“I think it’s the scars left over from the ’80s and early ’90s where Republicans weaponized being soft on crime,” he said. Those charges, in his view, were “full of baloney.”

Altieri said championing legalization could pay political dividends for the party.

“In some ways that point may have passed to look like you are taking a principled stance,” he said. “[But] this action by Jeff Sessions should drive the Democrats.”

And those who don’t get on board “are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history,” he said.

Other experts urged caution. Sam Kamin, professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, said while support for legalization is increasing, it isn’t enough to move an election.

“I hear from political types support for marijuana is broad but not very deep,” he said. “While it’s popular, it’s not the thing that changes people’s minds to support a candidate.”

The polling, while appearing to be favorable on the top-line numbers toward legalization, doesn’t indicate a deep-seated, aggressive support among voters. In fact, think of marijuana as one of those issues that remains near the bottom of the list when voters are asked to rank what is most important to them. Examining the polling from 2016 shows that legalization and/or drug policy doesn’t even make the top ten list of voter concerns.

In other words, support for legalization seems softer than polling would make you believe. Many voters may simply “not care” if pot is legal, but they might start to care if it becomes an issue and Democrats may still be fearing they’d be the “soft on crime” party who doesn’t care about drug-free school zones, etc…

I’d imaging that for a national Democratic politician, saying that marijuana should be “left to the states” is the signal that they agree with legalization, to some extent, and they’d let the states decide how to handle drug policy when it comes to marijuana.

Back to the original CNN article, it appears that many voters within the base of the Democratic Party are ready to embrace the cause:

Activists who have long hoped the issue would become a key plank in a Democratic nomination fight are hopeful Thursday’s news signals a watershed moment is on the horizon.

“Descheduling marijuana should and will likely be a litmus test in the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Erik Altieri, the executive director of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “As we have seen, leaders from the party are seeing that leading the charge on this is not just good policy but is good politics.”

In response to the grassroots support on the Democratic side, some elected Democrats are already touching up their credentials when it comes to pot:

Sanders, Booker and Gillibrand are not the only possible candidates backing legalized marijuana, either.

Both Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, two other potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination, have defended the successful efforts to legalize marijuana in their respective states. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that she is planning to introduce legislation that protects states that have legalized marijuana from a possible crackdown. And Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has already started to make trips out to early presidential primary and caucus states, helped implement the plan to legalize marijuana in California, making his city that largest in the United States selling legal pot.

I’m not convinced this issue is a winning issue in national elections, yet. When coupled with the Opioid epidemic, the thought of easing drug restrictions could become a campaign issue where a tougher stance wins out, regardless of any reasonable arguments made in favor of legalization. In fact the campaign ads practically write themselves. “Senator so and so wants to legalize more addictive drugs while America wrestles with opioid deaths in record numbers…” The two things are not really related, but sure sounds like the connection could be made to underpin a basis for opposing efforts to legalize pot. Marijuana tends to be a regional issue in the current political climate, and is still likely to stay that way for many years.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Is it true that harmful chemicals like those used in cigarettes can be found in pot? If so then pot shouldn’t be promoted, right?

    • According to the American Chemical Society, marijuana smoke contains significantly higher levels of several toxic compounds — including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide — than tobacco smoke and may therefore pose similar health risks. The scientists found that ammonia levels were 20 times higher in the marijuana smoke than in the tobacco smoke, while hydrogen cyanide, nitric oxide and certain aromatic amines occurred at levels 3-5 times higher in the marijuana smoke, they say.

      Now that cigarettes have been restricted, I cough and choke if there’s a cigarette smoker within 50 feet. Perhaps the same restrictions on “smoking” should be applied to pot.

  2. Marijuana carries fewer risks than many other stimulants. In fact, it carries fewer mood changing effects than the majority of prescription drugs. It is true that smoking any tobacco product can lead to respiratory issues but this type of smoke is not a major cause of health concerns. Factories that pollute the air through fossil fuel emissions are the largest contributors of smoke filled lungs. Their smoke emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that hovers over entire cities and the countryside. February 16, 2017, Trump, through executive action, repealed the Stream Protection Rule. Trump’s act now allows company’s to dump contaminated mining waste such as arsenic and selenium into our streams and waterways. So be careful when you order fish for dinner. This information is from the American Health Society and Willie Nelson.

    • My concern about legalizing marijuana is that the smoke smells a lot like skunk. I hope the smoking ban applies. But I’ve already noticed that skunk smell coming from porches around here–and on a calm day, it seems to hang in the air at least 100 feet away.

      • Well, Goethe, you make it clear that you have never experienced a southern night when the gulf breeze is clean and mixed with the sweet scent of magnolias, opening flower buds, and just a whiff of weed. Whether you smoke, your choice, or just drink iced tea, or both, is a personal choice. Where I come from, that is called freedom.

  3. Cannabis should only be taken as an oil and principally for medical reasons. It doesn’t matter if the cannabinoids are just CBD’s or include the hallucinogenic THC. First, there is no real control of its content –
    specifically of %CBD’S vs THC. So you never know what you are getting unless you know the grower and the oil processor and whats specs they adhering to. As a result much worse than alcohol or even beer because you don’t know what your ingesting – not x shots of 80 proof or 12 bottles of 5% but some unknown % of THC & various CBDs and if it is Indica or Stevia or some weird Genesis
    Smoking it is as bad for your health as cigarettes and vaping is inefficient and more costly than smoking. I had my tokes in 1954-58 and then again recreation-ally with wine and an occasional coke line in the late seventies. It is very easy to move to more serious hallucinogenics such as opioids and LSD if weak-minded and not careful.
    If prescribed professionally and in concert with the Doctor, grower and oil producer it absolutely can help the human cannabinoid receptors control and cure certain diseases. I took a special oil heavily controlled to aid in getting my SLL/CLL into remission. I’m in my 9th year.
    You can bet your sweet cells that Politicians don’t have a fk’g clue what the whole story is with Cannabis and why it was banned and then considered a harmful drug back the early 20th century. let alone the harmful impact of recreationally using and then trying to function or how medically it aids the human cannabinoid system.

    • Interesting. It seems that the push for legalization has been a curious alliance between aging liberal hippies (and hippy wannabes) with libertarians.

      Good to hear from you, Sam.

      • Yes, I knew several liberals (me a staunch conservative), during my careers, who are definitely aging if even still alive who toked for 50 years or more and even one or two LSD trips and many lines of coke snorting with a 20. – As you know I considered myself a Libertarian for a long time but my conservatism won out and I wish we would have started a Constitution Party as we talked about years ago. The breaking point was being so afraid of war that we wouldn’t build a big enough defense. As far as MaryJane I doubt many Libertarians understand enough about it to realize it’s consequences pro & con, they just don’t want government control over anything. For the most part I agree with them. When it’s time for me to go HOME I want to chose not some law that says I must start a morphine drip for pain until my body is too unconscious and unresponsive and finally takes me off life support. For the most part Government control is a bad thing except for control over obvious criminal behavior. But I still believe MJ should be a true controlled medical substance because of the brain dead idiots who can’t treat it with respect and still live worthy lives or advance to more serious opioids.

        • My friends in college wanted to turn me on (to drugs, not sex). I knew I couldn’t afford it. I was working two jobs to get my way through college. Also, I told them I already had a tentative hold on reality, as it was.

          Last week, I had a minor case of vertigo, from an inner-ear problem. In one instance, I bent over to pick up the soap in the shower, and felt as if the shower stall were tumbling down a hill. I had to brace myself on the walls to keep from crashing to the floor. That’s as close to a drug experience that I ever want to get.

          I don’t mind having other people taking control of a program or project, but I don’t like the feeling of losing control of myself.

          • I was a follower and high school dropout in downtown Denver my middle teens in the 50’s so we would just pass a joint around never getting more than two tokes.
            In the late Seventies I always knew the source, never mixed weed and coke and only got stoned once – everything was in slow motion in my mind. Never did that again. My wife at the time, took it once, saw purple dogs in the street and swore off it.
            Most recently, 2013-2017) knowing the Grower and oil producer working with a Oncologist group and my own Oncologist, I took low dosages (high THC) along with other cancer solutions (for my stage 4 SLL/CLL) for four years. I would only take it at bedtime because even getting up to hit the bathroom was problematic and no way would I be high during the day. I’m in remission and not using now but still taking my Veneclexta.

  4. Along with Mary Jane, I believe the usage of CBD/cannabis products to be a personal choice and not nearly as dangerous as whiskey, beer, wine, pills and careless drivers. You can’t overdose on marijuana. Not one of those brain dead idiots have marijuana listed as the cause of their death. Morphine drips are a personal or family choice. There are no laws stating otherwise. The government has never been able to control criminal behavior and can only punish the offender.

    • You are a typical Liberal that if anyone says red you will say blue! MJ can be dangerous in general because you don’t know what you’re getting regardless of the pkging. You need to know and understand the grower/producer,. You can get dirt weed laced with mescal or even magic musrooms and even worse an opiate / ice / crystal meth / or / some other weird shit. But even worse you DO overdose and then get behind the wheel. You will not have full faculties, your thot process is slow as fk / you may even hallucinate but you don’t even know. But the probability you have a serious accident and kill an innocent goes way up. there is also the possibility they walk outside and say “Cool, man – look at the sky” and wander out in front of a car.

      • Sam, I do understand that you speak from your own personal experiences with marijuana and I respect that. However, your personal encounter does not change indisputable statistics and medical facts.

        • Quote me the exact facts and specific parameters. I live in a state where pot is legal and unregulated and uncontrolled and see the results of users on a daily bvasis as well as when they have fairs and outings. My observance is by seeing it inside and outside. the stats and the politicians are fk’d up. E.O.S.

          • In your state of Colorado, cannabis is the sixth-largest source of state revenues from taxes and fees. In addition, cannabis has created over 30,000 jobs and around 3 billion dollars yearly in economic aid to the Colorado state government. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock backed the proposal to raise the city’s pot sales tax to fund affordable housing. Colorado state uses the first $40 million from the excise tax for school construction, with any additional cash going to the public school permanent fund. Law enforcement and transportation got $2.7 million. With cigarette smoking on the decline and gas prices remaining uncertain, states aren’t able to tap traditional areas of easy tax gains. So, right or wrong, legalizing marijuana has eased Colorado’s, and several other several states, burden to meet their financial budget . Living in Colorado, you are a receiver of the benefits of these taxes and fees placed on marijuana.

            If you want to know where I got this information, use your own time to read Colorado State’s web page.

            • I haven’t received any benefits from the Weed Tax benefits- dipshit + regardless of the tax hype nothing has been apparent in our bolstered economy. Probably because control is by Democrats who love to control and tax but never reveal where it goes. I get my money from the Military and pay my taxes and gas prices increased.

            • You might want to remember, Sam, that the military gets their money from all taxpayers so we all financially contribute to your monthly military retirement check. We all thank you for your service. That is why, as a retired service person, Social Security and Medicare taxes are not deducted from your pension, and why you are offered an array of programs from health to housing to financially help you live a good life.

            • Actually, you smug bastard,you underpaid me for my electronics profession and as a democrat you never voted for raises for the military & $200/month comes out for SocSec. Which btw I’m living on my money I put in for SSA&MEDICARE until age 90 & I’ll be dead by then by ~ 10 yrs. You probably also called us babykillers. Enjoy your freedom – Oh, That’s right you would rather live under socialist Totalitarian rule

            • Guess you missed reading the new in February 2014: “Senate Republicans on Thursday derailed a sweeping $21 billion bill that would have expanded medical, educational and other benefits for veterans — in another chapter of the ongoing feud over amendments, spending and new sanctions on Iran”.

              I was referring to your income from military retirement pay which is not considered earned income and no Social Security payroll taxes are withheld from it. If it was deducted from your pension check then you are due a refund.

              Many members of my family have served in the Naval and Armed Forces. It was their duty and honor to serve their country in both peace and wartime.

              Relax, Sam, and you’ll live to be a hundred or more.

            • Real Pubs (not RINOs) stopped it because of all the other crap. A pure VA with nothing else would have made it thru. Dems / RINOs always want to dirty it up.
              btw (DFAS is Taxable – but you don’t get it so you don’t know shit – VA isn’t because it is injury related to duty)
              http://Taxes on Disability and Retirement Pensions | Military.com
              http://States Compete for Military Retirees – The Pew Charitable Trusts
              I’m in my 9th year SLL/CLL due to being target ship for Nuke testing in ’62
              You don’t know crap about me – stay out of my life, go piss on Goethe.

            • Then don’t post your cry baby stories and vulgarities on a forum that is open for public discussion.

            • Hey, Sam.

              What’s your take on the policy of separating kids from parents at the border?

              I don’t know what the answer is, but that sure doesn’t seem decent.

            • It is definitely a sad situation. Dems passed the law knowing they would never enforce it and believing Pubs would never have Nads enuff to enforce it, never counting on a non-RINO ever getting in office. And then came Trump who is enforcing the law. Trump offered a solution but it included building the wall so the Dems aren’t giving in.
              Obama should never have encouraged South America and beyond to come, break the law, and invade — but he did. They are breaking the law as trying to come and invade. the kids land up with a relative in the U.S. or in an orphanage or at worst on the streets in the U.S. and will maybe become MS13.
              The parents or kids shouldn’t even try to come under Trump’s watch
              Trump has offered more than one solution but it always include a wall, and dumbass Dems would rather protest against, have orphaned kids than let Trump do whats best for America. Dems brought it on but will never admit it and eventually the orphans will be illegal Dem voters. Watch OANN on cable or go to OANNTV.com and get accurate news about the situation.

            • Then someone to tell the fk’g Dems to quit being so one way and pass the proposed bill that alleviates the situation and build the wall. As usual they agree with the bill but because Trump wants to cure DACA and also wants the wall, Dems and RINOs are fighting it. Someone (Trumps) needs to tell McConnell to invoke the Nuclear Option and get RINO Speaker Ryan off his butt and pass the bill Trump wants. Tell illegals to try the front door, wait their turn, and quit trying to force their way in or their family will be broken up. Maybe Melania should become Senate Majority Leader.

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