Marijuana

Do Democrats Realize They Need Republican Support To Legalize Marijuana?

The MORE Act, which was reintroduced today, is full of contentious provisions that go far beyond repealing federal prohibition.

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The House of Representatives made history last December by approving a bill that would have repealed the federal ban on marijuana—the first such measure to win approval from either chamber of Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D–N.Y.) today reintroduced that bill, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) plans to sponsor similar legislation soon.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 69 percent of Americans, including 78 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans, support marijuana legalization. But with the Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, the prospects for Nadler's bill are dim, especially because it is loaded with contentious provisions that go far beyond legalizing marijuana. And even if Democrats could win over enough Republican senators to avoid a filibuster, it is not at all clear that President Joe Biden, who still favors maintaining the federal ban, would be inclined to sign a bill that eliminates it.

The approach Democrats are taking makes little sense if their main priority is building a bipartisan coalition in favor of legalization. Nadler's bill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, includes several elements that are bound to raise objections from Republicans who might otherwise be inclined to support legalization, if only to resolve the untenable conflict between the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the laws of the 36 states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–Calif.) first introduced in 2013, consisted of a single sentence that would have made the federal ban on marijuana inapplicable to people acting in compliance with state law. A bill that simply removed marijuana from the CSA's schedules of controlled substances would likewise be consistent with federalism, and it would be similarly brief. The MORE Act, by contrast, is 87 pages long.

Section 3, which addresses "decriminalization of cannabis," decontrols marijuana and amends various federal laws to conform with that change. That takes nine pages.

What does the rest of the bill do? Some of the provisions are unobjectionable. The MORE Act specifies, for example, that cannabis offenses do not disqualify people from receiving federal benefits and will not figure in immigration enforcement. It creates an expungement and resentencing process for marijuana offenders—an important ameliorative step that was too often neglected by early state legalization measures. But the bill also includes a bunch of provisions that are more controversial.

The MORE Act imposes a 5 percent federal excise tax on cannabis products, rising to 8 percent after four years. That's in addition to the often hefty taxes collected by state and local governments, which include special marijuana levies as well as standard sales taxes. The bill also requires marijuana suppliers to pay an annual "occupational tax," obtain federal permits, report information to the Treasury Department, and comply with packaging, labeling, and storage regulations. The tax and regulatory provisions, including civil and criminal penalties for violating them, consume 45 pages.

The MORE Act uses revenue from the excise tax to fund a "Community Reinvestment Grant Program" aimed at subsidizing "services for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs," including job training, reentry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation and mentoring programs, and health education. The revenue also would be used to pay for "substance use disorder services" and to create a "Cannabis Opportunity Program" that would provide loans to small marijuana businesses owned by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals."

Another grant program would help state and local governments "develop and implement equitable cannabis licensing programs that minimize barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs." To be eligible for those grants, applicants would have to create automatic expungement programs for people convicted of state cannabis offenses.

"The House has the opportunity to double down on its commitment to justice and economic recovery this year by taking up the MORE Act immediately and continuing the robust debate on how to best end the disastrous federal war on cannabis," says Aaron Smith, CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association. "Given the rapidly growing number of states with legal cannabis markets and the steadily increasing support from voters across the political spectrum, we expect there could be even more support for ending the failed federal prohibition in this session."

But to reach a decisive level of support, Democrats will need help from Republicans in the Senate. The MORE Act makes you wonder whether they realize that. Are they actually trying to end the federal war on weed, or are they just trying to make a statement and score political points?

When the House approved the MORE Act in December, just five Republicans joined 222 Democrats and one Libertarian (now-former Michigan Rep. Justin Amash) in voting for the bill. The Senate version, which was sponsored by then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), went nowhere. Now that Democrats are in charge of the Senate, a legalization bill will get a hearing, but it still will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to get a vote. A streamlined bill without all the new taxes, regulations, and spending programs would have a better chance of overcoming that barrier.

Even if that happened, it is not clear that Biden would be willing to support anything like the bill that his vice president backed last year. When a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a press briefing last month whether Biden would sign a legalization bill, she reiterated his support for several modest marijuana reforms. Pressed to explicitly say whether Biden would sign a bill like the MORE Act, Psaki replied, "I just have outlined what his position is, which isn't the same as what the House and Senate have proposed."

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79 responses to “Do Democrats Realize They Need Republican Support To Legalize Marijuana?

  1. Do Democrats Realize They Need Republican Support To Legalize Marijuana?

    Does Reason realize The President can decriminalize marijuana with a phone and a pen?

    1. Don’t disagree.

      But decriminalize != legal

      There’s a fundamental ideological problem with having things be illegal, but, you know, we’ll just not prosecute you today for it. Leaving those laws is how the ratchet keeps getting tighter. Congress should do it’s damned job if they want the marijuanas to be legal.

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      2. There’s a fundamental ideological problem with having things be illegal, but, you know, we’ll just not prosecute you today for it

        Gosh, you mean like DACA? Like selective enforcement of campaign finance and tax law against political enemies?

        You may believe in that principle, Biden clearly doesn’t.

        1. this bill is a Trojan Horse.

          The title says ” pot” but the contents are just dressed up Leftist welfare and social agendas.

          Lipstick on a pig.

  2. “The approach Democrats are taking makes little sense if their main priority is building a bipartisan coalition in favor of legalization. ”

    At this stage, I doubt it really has that much to do with legalization but rather with the politics of passing such legalization – perhaps something democrats would not want to promote bipartisan support in passing, maybe.

    1. That or protect party members whose are constituents aren’t on board.

  3. “A streamlined bill without all the new taxes, regulations, and spending programs would have a better chance of overcoming that barrier.”

    But that would defeat the purpose of the Federal Government, who’s primary mission is to control, tax, and regulate every aspect of everyone’s life.

  4. The word “legalize” is really the wrong word.

    1. True, it’s only legal if you buy from the “approved” vendors — properly licensed, properly regulated, and properly taxed.

      1. But…that applies to most business, doesn’t it? Most of them are either (or all of) licensed, regulated, and taxed, everywhere in the world. So “legal” in the sense we usually use it.

        1. No

  5. At this point I don’t think Republicans would vote for a bill to affirm that Christmas comes on December 25th. Any bill would first have to have the approval of the former President and that seems unlikely.

    1. I see your TDS is still in full swing.

  6. But they don’t. They have the WH, House, and Senate. All they need is for their chicken shit “moderates” to grow a spine and pass the bills.

    1. Typical fascist you want more government. Fuck off.

      1. We want to legalize pot, that is less government you moron.

        1. Legalizing marijuana is more government??? Some people have been listen to the former President so much they don’t know up from down.

          1. You missed all the regulation, licensing, and taxation, each of which increases the gov.

            Oh, wait, you’re too stupid to understand those terms.

        2. your psychological and cognitive deficits indicate you dont need more drugs

    2. Filibuster is in play.

    3. …then they dont have the wh house and senate, do they moron?

  7. I’m starting to get the sense that when Democrats were blubbering on about Legalization (going back to what, the 1980s, 1970s? 1960s?) they were lying to me.

    1. Or is it that some are actually for it and some are full on drug warriors and it’s not something the party has ever really supported?

    2. Seriously? Democrats only jumped on legalization bandwagon en Masse in last decade. Only people talking about legalization before then were libertarians and maybe a few ultra liberal Dems.

      1. William Buckley, publisher of National Review, and no “ultra liberal Dem, advocated for marijuana legalization, back in the 80’s.

        1. William Buckley was a conservative, but with some libertarian leanings. Libertarians were a significant part of the Goldwater-Reagan GOP in the 1980s, but since then have been squeezed out of today’s GOP.

  8. >>Are they actually trying to end the federal war on weed

    why would they let us eat the carrot at the end of the stick?

    1. …to then blame you for loss of a carrot then to beat you with the stick!

  9. It’s because the goal of politicians in the federal government is not to solve anything, it’s simply to score political points against your opponents. If you compromise and solve problems, how can you own the other side and generate donations to do so?

  10. The great majority of voters just aren’t interested in weed, legal or otherwise. A considerable number are still firmly against it.

    So politicians have good reason to leave things as they are.

    1. Survey after survey shows legalization as being supported by the majority of Americans. States and municipalities need money. Why not legalize and tax the product like anything else. Seems a good source of ‘new’ revenue.

      1. But the states are already doing that.

      2. Republicans are split on the issue and that’s what matters to Republican representatives.

        Furthermore, marijuana won’t be “taxed like anything else”, it will be getting a complex tax and regulatory scheme whose net effect will likely be an even greater erosion of privacy for Americans.

      3. lying today Troll?

        nice topic change. Fail.

        The topic is not States.

        I dont think you need more drugs, youre too stoned to read

    2. That doesn’t align with reality, but are you really arguing on a “Libertarian” website for the government to restrict freedoms?

      1. He wasn’t arguing for or against the policy, he was explaining why Republicans don’t care.

        And while I personally favor legalization, I think it is a largely irrelevant issue, that legalization will be misused by politicians for more corruption and taxes, and that libertarians would be best off to stop obsessing over it.

    3. If you actually, you know, read the article you would have seen the numbers.

  11. “But with the Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, the prospects for Nadler’s bill are dim, especially because it is loaded with contentious provisions that go far beyond legalizing marijuana.”

    Given that the goal of modern US politics is to divide, insult, anger, and ultimately delegitimize others, then contentious provisions are not just incidental. They are central to the process.

  12. When the filibuster is ditched, Democrats won’t need anything from Republicans other than whining for the soundtrack of American progress.

  13. How come all these long standing libertarian policies (reduction in the defense budget, decriminalization of marijuana, gay marriage) keep getting done by the party of Stalin and Mao ( I refer to the Democrats, of course) and not the party of freedom and lightness, which would, of course, by the Republicans.

    1. Cherry pick because it’s all you can do, we don’t like either party because they’re lying fucks that don’t align with us. Do tell me how amazing the democrats are at blowing up brown kids in the desert, because there’s no distinction between the parties there at all, and while I’m glad when defense spending goes down, you fucks just spend it on some other bullshit I don’t want, so that’s not progress at all. Fuck you and fuck your shitty team red vs. team blue dichotomy, faggot.

      1. Somebody has to stick up for the Blue Team around here. It’s a sea of Team Red horseshit and Trump didn’t start a war (psst, neither did OBAMA) nonsense.

        1. Libya, Syria, Yemen, we invaded Pakistan….

          1. Don’t confuse him with facts.

    2. Because successful political parties align along unpredictable lines not always determined by any simple ideology. Right now, however, in the USA, the Republicans are so much better for libertarian interests, they’re not even comparable. Some of the successes by Democrats you listed were going on momentum that was generated many decades ago and is almost spent. Diminution of the defense budget was a result of a guns-or-butter decision from the 1960s, marijuana decriminalization was a result of old-vs.-young alignment at the same time. Same sex marriage is a product of culture war, not a matter of individual liberty, although many libertarians (including myself 20 years ago) have misanalyzed it that way.

    3. Gay marriage wasn’t done by either party.

      Reduction in defense budget and decriminalization of marijuana are just proposals. They haven’t actually been done.

      You are forgetting that Republican governors reopened their economies, ditched mask mandates, reduced occupational licensing requirements, improved school choice, liberalized gun laws, and cut taxes. So, it is not like the Rs have done nothing for us. Mostly at the state level, but they haven’t controlled the federal level in a while.

      Anyway, there is a reason that Libertarians are not Republicans. We only half line up.

    4. How come all these long standing libertarian policies (reduction in the defense budget, decriminalization of marijuana, gay marriage) keep getting done by the party of Stalin and Mao ( I refer to the Democrats, of course)

      Well, that is factually false. Particularly galling is the lie that Democrats “got gay marriage done” after Obama, Clinton, and Biden opposed it for most of their careers.

      Furthermore, socialists tend to favor such policies for liberal democracies because they believe it makes liberal democracies weak and ready for a socialist takeover. Actual socialist states tend to have massive militaries and strict laws against drug use and “deviant” sexual behavior. I.e., the socialist support for these issues is a strategy and ultimately a lie.

    5. Trump was the first candidate of either party to run as pro-Gay Marriage, idiot

  14. These lefty democrat dickheads can’t help themselves. They just can’t. Nothing can EVER under any circumstances can just be simple, honest, and straightforward, no matter how much support it might have. Everything to them is another opportunity to try to see how far they can their boot up our ass, and they can’t pass it up.

  15. Democrats can negotiate to strip out all the objectionable provisions and Republicans would still block it just to deny them the political win of legalizing marijuana.

    1. The reason Republicans can get away this is because most people simply don’t care about legalizing marijuana. We do care about individual liberties, but legalizing marijuana won’t give use those back; in fact, it will likely make things worse, since after corrupting our criminal justice system, the taxation associated with legal marijuana will likely just be used for the federal government to become even more intrusive.

  16. The MORE Act uses revenue from the excise tax to fund a “Community Reinvestment Grant Program” aimed at subsidizing “services for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs,”

    Couldn’t they instead, oh, I don’t know…end the war on drugs?

    A quote like that means they want people to think of the war on drugs as if it were a fact of nature, just something they have to deal with and mitigate, like climate change, rather than something they’re actively doing all the time.

  17. Its always about enriching your tribe with these guys isn’t it? Even the Civil Rights Act of 64 had to have parts which ensured certain tribes were rewarded instead of just getting govt out of the discrimination game and letting people decide how they wanted to interact. Its always about revenue streams for scum like Nadler and Schumer..two of the worst type of bolsheviks from NYC in Congress…very bad human beings.

    Dana was right…the law should be one sentence..the Federal Govt has no opinion on the growing, sale, and use of MJ….and leave it up to the States. That’s it..and let the free market work

    1. The Civil Rights act wasn’t about civil rights, it was about power. As LBJ explained: “I’ll have those n***ers voting Democratic for 200 years.

  18. Republicans, the prospects for Nadler’s bill are dim, especially because it is loaded with contentious provisions that go far beyond legalizing marijuana.”

    Given that the goal of modern US politics is to divide, insult, anger, and ultimately
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    delegitimize others, then contentious provisions are not just incidental. They are central to the process.

  19. At this point it is no longer Republican vs Democrat. It is the Establishment, populated by dinosaurs, and the young up-and-comers. I’m rooting for the asteroid.

    1. It won’t be an asteroid, justice will instead be dispensed by decades of hyperinflation, economic ruin, and totalitarianism, the natural consequences of the kind of greed and ignorance Americans have displayed post-WWII.

      1. lying today?
        The leftists in Government have dispkayed those attitudes, not the People.

        You suck as a Troll.

        Go back to bjs at the truck stop loser

        1. The leftists in Government have dispkayed those attitudes, not the People.

          90% of Republicans want to keep Medicare/Medicaid and/or create a fully government run medical program. 70% of Republicans oppose any reductions in Social Security benefits. The numbers among Democrats are even worse. Yes, the vast majority of American voters keep voting for this crap, not just “leftists in Government”.

          Go back to bjs at the truck stop loser

          Ah, and there we have another attribute of the typical American: when holds up a mirror to your face, you get angry and nasty.

          1. If healthcare (insurance) cost about the same as your auto insurance (which it would if govt would leave the entire system alone)…most Americans would not be for govt systems at all. But if your forced because your private insurance goes from $50 a month to $1000 you tend to look for govt solutions. As for SS..sure welfare with little strings when you get older sounds good to me…I recall my Dad who was born in 1922 saying “I paide into the system and its my money”..being the smart ass son with a BS in Physics and an MBA I ran a cash flow and showed him even with interest levels far above reality he pulled out what he put in the system by the time he hit 75 and he lived to 91. If you explain the long term impacts to printing money for “give aways” and how distorting markets causes high prices…people might listen…might..

            1. I ran the numbers for my SS, and I’ll break even at 102 years old. Don’t forget that inflation was 15-18% back in the 70’s, 80’s, so those early payments would have grown substantially if invested in the market.

            2. If healthcare (insurance) cost about the same as your auto insurance (which it would if govt would leave the entire system alone)…most Americans would not be for govt systems at all. But if your forced because your private insurance goes from $50 a month to $1000 you tend to look for govt solutions.

              The actual cost of healthcare should be about $200/month, and that’s where it would be in a free market. The reason it is $1000/month is because of government.

              The US healthcare system is a massive handout to special interests by the government, at the expense of US taxpayers.

    2. The UFOs are evidence that the aliens are on the way. The overlords will gift us with advanced technology ushering in an era of peace and harmony and eliminating poverty and war. We will have no need of political parties.

      Following which they will eat us.

      1. No species capable of interstellar travel would come near this planet.
        It would be like vacationing in the La Brea tar pits.

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  24. Do Democrats Realize They Need Republican Support To Legalize Marijuana?

    Do you realize that to Democrats, the Republicans don’t matter anymore, because they know they will kill the filibuster, ram through statehood for DC and PR, and then pass whatever they want to?

  25. Biden isn’t throwing his prohibitionist cronies under the bus any time soon.

  26. The More Act will NOT PASS.

    WHY?
    Whats Question # 1 on the NICS form?

    Anyone ? Anyone ? Anyone?

  27. Given that the goal of modern US politics is to divide, insult, anger, and ultimately delegitimize others, then contentious provisions are not just incidental. They are central to the process.
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  28. There should not be any federal laws about marijuana. If states want to regulate it that is up to them.

  29. These are the same Democrats who recently voted in the House to make D.C. the 51st state, not caring that there was no Republican support nor that it would require a change to the Constitution.

    They don’t seem to be sane. At best, it could be that they’re just virtue-signaling, but I’m inclined to believe that there’s some measure of insanity–especially power madness–in there.

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  31. Same old politics, take an issue that has public support and try to attach as much crap as you can to it because those other things would never pass otherwise.

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