Over the last two years, I have been writing about how the congressional Democratic leadership has stood in the way of the bipartisan effort that would be needed to adopt marijuana legalization at the national level. It has done so by choosing as its legalization vehicle the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that features race-based provisions and marijuana business subsidies that ensure that nearly no Republican congressional members will support the bill. The strategy has allowed Democrats in Congress to continue to bluster in favor of marijuana legalization while making no progress toward legalization becoming reality.
Now, a new draft legalization bill cosponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the majority leader in the United States Senate, is on the scene. By including many extraneous provisions that Republicans are guaranteed to despise, the draft bill promises to be as “Democrats-only” as the old MORE Act, if not more so. The new draft bill is called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. To read the draft bill and a rundown of some of its extraneous provisions sure to repel Republican Congress members who are open to supporting legalization, check out Jacob Sullum’s Wednesday Reason article “Chuck Schumer Says He Wants To Legalize Marijuana. His Bill Suggests Otherwise.”
Despite much public support for legalization and continuing strong momentum for legalization on the state level, it looks like Democratic leaders in Congress are setting things up for a rerun of the MORE Act debacle, presumably with the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act — once finalized — taking the lead. Several of my articles chronicling congressional action related to the MORE Act are linked here. A couple of my more recent articles regarding the subject may be found here and here.
Why all the extraneous provisions in the legalization bills being advanced by Democratic congressional leadership? Part of the reason seems to be political posturing — promoting partisan legislation so it fails, with Democrats seeking to then place blame on Republicans for blocking legalization. Another explanation is that, with marijuana legalization at the national level increasingly looking like it is just around the corner, the special interests are rushing in to ensure that any legalization bill pushed by the Democratic congressional leadership is loaded down with goodies for the powerful and connected.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.