Many Republicans just want to vote against Biden. The problem for them is that Biden's legislative priorities-- battling the pandemic, taxing corporations, infrastructure, job creation, etc-- are very popular, even across partisan lines, and their knee jerk obstructionism is hurting them politically. But Schumer and Pelosi are giving Republicans an opportunity to oppose Biden and do something very popular: cancel antiquated marijuana prohibition.
The Mary Jane battle-lines are no longer Democrat vs Republican or even progressive vs conservative. The battle lines are now predominantly the elderly vs everyone else. Biden is very old-- and politically even older than in actual years. He clings to certain of his beliefs that have long "gone out of fashion," like that weed is the devil's drug. He's on the wrong side of history-- and the wrong side of politics. The videos on this page are still what Biden has in his mind when someone talks about legalization. He had better start catching up real fast
Now even conservative red states like Louisiana are backing marijuana legalization. A new Harris X poll released yesterday shows that just 25% of voters think marijuana should remain illegal. Even among voters over 65, only 32% think marijuana should remain illegal, although I suspect that that percentage rises dramatically when you get up in age to around Biden territory. Among Democrats only 16% believe pot should be illegal; 26% of independents and even among Republicans, it's just 34%. Among Trump voters 36% favor keeping pot illegal and among Biden voters that drops to 15%.
Yesterday, Politico reported that "Schumer really likes to talk about weed" and that he, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden are all leading a renewed effort towards legalization in the Senate. Natalie Fertig reported that "Schumer said Biden’s reticence won’t deter the Senate from taking aggressive action to loosen federal restrictions. 'I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,' Schumer said in an interview with Politico this week. 'But at some point we're going to move forward, period.' Schumer pointed to the decade-long experiment with state legalization as evidence that the worst fears of what would happen were overblown. 'The legalization of states worked out remarkably well,' he said. 'They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom.'"
Fertig asked Schumer how he came to see marijuana as something that needed to be legalized. "A while back-- I can't remember the exact year-- I was in Denver," he replied. "I just started talking to people, not just elected officials, but just average folks. [They said] it benefited the state, and [didn’t] hurt the state. There were tax revenues, but people had freedom to do what they wanted to do, as long as they weren't hurting other people. That's part of what America is about. And they were exultant in it." I know... it's hard to imagine Schumer talking to "just average folks" but that's the story he's telling himself.
Fertig: What difference does the fact that the Senate is now controlled by Democrats make for legalization, and is 51 votes enough to pass the bill that you're about to propose?
Schumer: Probably the most important power of the majority leader is the ability to put bills on the floor. And the fact that I am introducing a bill, and the fact that people will know that there will be a vote on this sooner or later-- that's the big difference.
Even when states were for this, if McConnell wouldn't bring the bill up, their senators were never challenged: “How are you going to vote?” And they could say, “Well ... I don't know.” They don't have to say anything. And so the fact that every member will know once we introduce this legislation-- not only that it has my support, but that it will come to the floor for a vote-- is going to help move things forward in a very strong way.
Fertig: You said during the 2020 election that McConnell's opposition to cannabis policy was the primary thing holding it up. But do you know of or believe there are other Republicans who do support removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act?
Schumer: Yes. What we want to do is first introduce our comprehensive bill, and then start sitting down with people who are not for this in both parties, and A) try to educate them, B) see what their objections are, and if they have some modifications that don't interfere with the main thrust of the bill-- we'd certainly listen to some suggestions if that'll bring more people on board. That is not to say we're going to throw overboard things like expungement of records-- [things that are] very important to us-- just because some people don't like it.
Fertig: You said that the timeline on this bill is soon. Does that mean that we're going to see it in the next two weeks?
Schumer: I'll stick to what I said: soon.
Among conservative Republicans calling for legalization of marijuana are Senators Rand Paul (KY), Bill Cassidy (LA), Steve Daines (MT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Kevin Cramer (ND), Dan Sullivan (AK), all of who are primary sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act that would prevent federal banking regulators from:
Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as a lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business;
Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.