The cannabis communities (note the plural) were disappointed (again) last week when the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives delayed a vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act until after the elections. Although it is obviously frustrating, the short delay may actually ensure greater success in November.
As an excellent report on MarijuanaMoment.com pointed out, the bill actually has the support of a majority of the House Republicans, but some moderate House Democrats (an endangered species) were afraid of being mocked by prohibitionists in November.
“They felt that advancing the reform legislation before passing another coronavirus relief bill looked bad for them — a position that advocates say is nonsensical given the widespread popularity of the issue.”
As The Grio reported, last May, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took exception to the word ‘cannabis’ appearing more times than the word ‘jobs’ in the $3 trillion coronavirus bill introduced by House Democrats..”
Of course, marijuana legalization should be seen as a way to make jobs, not just raise tax revenue.
Unfortunately, McConnell did have one point. The pandemic stimulus bill included a requirement for more research on minority-owned and women-owned marijuana companies, what McConnell called “diversity detectives for the cannabis industry.”
Having ignored the obviously racist origins and enforcement of marijuana prohibition for almost a century, the progressives have sometimes delayed legalization efforts to dole out lucrative licenses to select members of minorities as a form of “reparations.”
To make the politics even more weird, President Trump has actually recognized that having a marijuana question on the ballot increases voter turnout, and that hurts Republicans, who have a long record of opposition to marijuana reform.
On the other hand, Biden seems to understand the political power of the issue. He is definitely not willing to lose the election for a lost cause, but just can’t quite bring himself to say “Legalize it.”
Like Biden, His running mate Kamala Harris was against marijuana legalization before she was for it. As Forbes reports, “While Harris’ past history on cannabis was certainly not one that suggested advocacy for cannabis reform, she seemed to shift gears rapidly over the last few years. Suddenly, she was voicing support for cannabis legalization and even talking about her own experiences with the drug. And it wasn’t just talk, she cosponsored multiple bills aimed at improving things for the cannabis industry, and those impacted by the war on drugs.”
In any case, the Democrats can at least count the votes, so they are committed to legalization, in one form or another. However, my continuing frustration with our progressive friends is exemplified in a generally excellent article on the Leftist website Salon.com:
Want to reform the police? That must start with decriminalizing drugs.
Too much police violence against people of color is justified by a connection to illegal drugs. There’s an easy fix.
At this stage in the debate do progressives really need to be told that? I have often written about this.
And it will certainly not be a new idea to readers of the Libertarian magazine Reason.com.
Drug prohibition increases conflict between citizens and the police by John Stossel.
AND: End the War on Drugs: Drug prohibition turns police officers into enemies to be feared rather than allies to be welcomed by Jacob Sullum.
American progressives have long ignored successful alternatives to the Drug War in other countries. For over 40 years the Dutch have allowed the sale of cannabis in their “coffeeshops.” The results: the Dutch annual per capita rate of cannabis use is less than half of the American rate (5.4% vs 13.7%) and the hard drug use rate is even lower (0.3% vs 0.57%). And the murder rate is less than one fifth the U.S. rate.
And for 20 years, Portugal has had a policy of “decriminalization” for all drugs. This policy addresses both the public health problems associated with injecting hard drugs, and conflicts with the police.
But for eight years, Barack Obama did nothing to stop the arrests, so opponents of the Drug War often find themselves in a situation reminiscent of James Thurber’s The Peacelike Mongoose and a few other things in contemporary politics:
“In cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn’t want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn’t want to fight cobras. If he didn’t want to fight anything else, it was his own business, but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras.
“Why?” asked the peacelike mongoose, and the word went around that the strange new mongoose was not only pro-cobra and anti-mongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongoosism.
“He is crazy,” cried the young mongoose’s father.
“He is sick,” said his mother.
“He is a coward,” shouted his brothers.
“He is a mongoosexual,” whispered his sisters.
Strangers who had never laid eyes on the peacelike mongoose remembered that they had seen him crawling on his stomach, or trying on cobra hoods, or plotting the violent overthrow of Mongoosia.
“I am trying to use reason and intelligence,” said the strange new mongoose.
“Reason is six-sevenths of treason,” said one of his neighbors.
“Intelligence is what the enemy uses,” said another.
Finally, the rumor spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting, like a cobra, and he was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment.
Moral: Ashes to ashes, and clay to clay, if the enemy doesn’t get you your own folks may.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of All You Need To Know About CBD For Children