- Democrats have been in favor of cannabis legalization but have not made many changes.
- The president could secure his reelection by appealing to young voters who favor federal cannabis legalization.
The subject of marijuana legalization hasn’t gotten much attention from President Donald Trump, even as multiple states have chosen to legalize it while he’s been in office. However, that lack of discussion could ultimately change over the next few months. As the election nears, Trump will need a way to appeal to younger voters that may not be prepared to vote as a Republican, and one of the hottest topics amongst young voters is the legalization of marijuana.
Investment firm Piper Jaffray recently held a company-wide conference regarding cannabis policy, during which time analysts stated that Trump would likely bring up cannabis legalization as a way to secure his reelection. The same analysts expressed that they also believe that the administration will likely make a few acts of good faith before federal legalization ultimately legalizing cannabis at the federal level within the next two to five years.
During the meeting, analyst Michael Lavery said, “By supporting cannabis, Trump may be able to incrementally broaden his appeal with swing voters without alienating his base.” The Democratic opponents of Trump are in favor of cannabis legalization, with only Joe Biden opposing it in the party. If Trump were to voice a stance of supporting legalization, Trump could gain the votes of Democrats that would otherwise vote against him, which is a fear that the Democrats presently have.
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, stated last year that Trump could use the cannabis issue to secure his reelection, if the Democrats don’t make a pro-cannabis argument. His statements were made in his “Blueprint for Federal Marijuana Legalization.” He commented, “If we fail to act swiftly, I fear as the 2020 election approaches, Donald Trump will claim credit for our work in an effort to shore up support – especially from young voters. Democrats must seize the moment.”
Unfortunately, Democrats haven’t exactly been active. The political party has maintained control over the U.S. House of Representatives for six months so far, and there’s been no progress on marijuana reform. Even with a few cannabis-related bills thrown around, and a few changes to the SAFE Act, Democrats are failing to live up to the potential of being the pro-legalization force through Washington, D.C.
President Trump could use this inaction to his advantage, potentially putting the US on the path to legalization, if he manages to work out a deal covertly with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While McConnell championed the farm legislation that ultimately led to legal hemp production, he isn’t in favor of legalizing marijuana. However, he is even less in favor of losing his Senate seat, leaving him in a position to make some changes that could save him, which means that there’s a chance that the President could team up with McConnell for additional support.
Realistically, at least for this year, it is not likely that any major marijuana reform will happen. However, with no movement on the issue this year, President Trump has a golden opportunity to make some promises that could supersede the failures of the Democrats.