Article by Paul Armentano, MSN News
The Republican Party controls the legislative and executive branch for the first time since the 109th Congress. Understandably, leadership is anxious to push forward an agenda that comports with longstanding conservative principles of limited government as well as with the President’s populist rhetoric. Advocating for marijuana policy reform ought to be part of this federal agenda. Here’s why.
The election of Donald J. Trump was not the only politically significant victory on Election Day. Somewhat lost in the media frenzy was that millions of voters went chose to put an end to America’s nearly century long experiment with cannabis criminalization.
Majorities of voters in eight states decided in favor of initiatives to permit the use of marijuana by either adults or by qualified patients, and to regulate those markets accordingly. Voters’ support for reform was essentially non-partisan. Blue states like California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada voted in favor of legalization, as did red states like Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.
To those of us who have worked on this issue for some time, these results were hardly surprising. Outside of the Beltway, Americans’ support for enacting regulatory alternatives to pot prohibition is uniquely bipartisan. According to the latest national polling by Gallup, six out of ten Americans believe that the adult use of marijuana “should be made legal.” By party, Gallup pollsters found that legalization was most likely to be favored by Independents and Democrats, but also that support among Republicans had more than doubled over the past decade.
Support among Republicans for legalizing medical marijuana is even higher, with 85 percent of GOP voters endorsing its therapeutic use, according to nationwide survey data released this week by Quinnipiac University. But perhaps most strikingly, Quinnipiac pollsters also reported that nearly three-quarters of voters – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”