With marijuana legalization halted in the United States Senate despite overwhelming popular support — and with President Joe Biden, blame for this familiar impasse over drug policy reform in recent weeks has shifted to the Democratic Party.
After all, that logic goes, Democrats control two of the three branches of government (Have a good dayAnd Somewhat); Why can’t Majority Leader Chuck Schumer beat his party in class! And since we live in a dichotomous world, since Democrats are bad – and since Democrats “control” government – this makes Republicans are good.
This reasoning roughly aligns with the libertarian, small-government roots of the cannabis movement. “We need the federal government to get out of the way,” said US Representative Nancy Mays, a South Carolina Republican who recently introduced a federal legalization bill — the first ever by a Republican! –in Politico.
Mace’s bill has low taxes, in stark contrast to blue states that stifle legal cannabis with excessive taxation and onerous regulation. As noted by Politico, Mace has the support of major Republican funders such as Charles Koch. Where are the Democrats? Why are they stopping us?
This sounds almost convincing and compelling, except for two majors flaws in logic. Legalization of cannabis cannot go through the Senate — a 50-50 split, where Democrats have no real “majority” at all — because not a single Republican will support it.
And after nearly a decade of back-to-back victories in blue states, the first state to de-legalize adult marijuana approved by voters was dark red South Dakota — where Republican Governor Kristi Noem was Finally last week In a nearly year-long effort to abolish a ballot measure supported by 54 percent of its eligible voting citizens.
Cannabis is still a cudgel in the culture war, and Republicans still swing that big stick.
As Forbes mentioned earlier, shortly after South Dakota delivered a drug policy surprise in the November 2020 election when voters legalized both medical cannabis and adult use at the same time, Noem instructed senior law enforcement officials to file a case against the measure.
A lower court ruled to overturn Amendment A on technical grounds, on the grounds that constitutional amendments approved by a voter must address only one subject. Since legalization of cannabis affects both medical and recreational marijuana as well as cannabis, these are three topics. On November 24, the state Supreme Court agreed, overturning the measure. Advocates plan to appeal, but for now, Noem has scored a big win: repealing the marijuana law.
“South Dakota is an important place for the rule of law and our constitution, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” the governor said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “We do things right — and how we do things — is just as important as what we do.”
anyway Most Republicans support legalizationNoem chose to take a stand on cannabis. She campaigned against each of the cannabis measures in her state. While she eventually came to support medical marijuana, she took a hard line on adult use, declaring that the drug “Social disease” As the Associated Press mentioned.
South Dakota isn’t the only deep-red-hearted state to thwart legalization in this way. Last year, no statutory procedure took place in Nebraska that was eligible to vote before voters. A similar lawsuit has been filed to challenge South Dakota. was leading the charge Former Head of State of the Republican Party.
It could just be opposition, it could be opposition to the ruling party, or it could be – in Noem’s case, perhaps – a deeper cultural opposition. Whatever the case, despite the stalemate in Washington, the fact remains that until 2020, cannabis legalization had enjoyed a nearly decade-long winning streak in the United States. The first major loss at the state level came at the hands – with urgency and will – of a popular Republican governor.