Despite evidence that two-thirds of Americans support legalizing cannabis, federal moves towards legalization have been small and halting. Even simple measures, such as regulating banking in states where cannabis is legal, have a tough time getting support in Washington. Think about that. How many issues in today’s polarized society have a two-thirds consensus? You’d think politicians could unite to present a rare bipartisan win and get on with it. You’d also think that presidential candidates scrambling for votes in a close election would want to tap into that 66 percent.
But unfortunately, you’d think wrong. What is going on?
Powerful opponents, little passion
It’s true that some of the most influential people in politics oppose cannabis legalization. Mike Crapo, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, comes to mind. Joe Biden has some personal opposition to legalization, as he was complicit in the War On Drugs back in the day. Recently, Biden successfully avoided supporting full legalization of marijuana in his unity message with former rival Bernie Sanders and in the Democratic Party platform. President Trump has been hot and cold on the subject, honoring an agreementabused the antitrust laws to frustrate the industry.
But despite this opposition, individual actors, no matter how powerful, could not stop a large bi-partisan move towards legalization. The reason legalization is not moving forward is that its support is wide but not deep. A solid majority of Americans want legal cannabis, but it’s not a particularly important issue.
That has always been true, but it is even more true in 2020 with the pandemic.
Published: August 07, 2020
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