This month, the Democrat-led House was set to vote on legalizing marijuana. Called The MORE Act, the bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act in addition to erasing some cannabis criminal records. Last November, Congressman Jerry Nadler, the bill’s sponsor, dismissed concerns about the Senate’s unlikelihood to vote on much less pass the legislation.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to say the Senate won’t take this bill so we shouldn’t pass this bill,” Nadler explained to Politico in August. “To do [so] is to say the Senate rules the roost and the House doesn’t matter.” Seldom do I take comfort in the sentiments expressed by Democratic leadership because all too often do they speak as if they lack any power — a dispiriting thought given their political opposition is a tyrant with his party attached to his taint. But Nadler gets it.
And for a party and a country that owes so much to the populations it locked up for the very practice so many white people now earn massive profits on, even if a symbolic gesture given the current makeup of our insufferable government, this vote ought to happen. The Democrats appeared to initially understand this — with some, namely progressives and Democratic political operatives believing the vote would actually help in most congressional races given its widespread support. A Pew survey taken last November showed two-thirds of the population approved marijuana legalization.
Unfortunately, it now seems like the Democrats are going to delay the vote until a lame duck session. Why? The moderates of the party are concerned that the GOP has hijacked the messaging of the bill. In other words: they are afraid the GOP’s latest round of racist lies will work on white people.
Last Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the bill shows Democrats are prioritizing marijuana over the massive public health and economic fallout from the pandemic. As economists warn that America is risking a “double dip recession” (if not depression) without the assistance of a second stimulus plan, need I remind everyone that this is the jackass that’s been ignoring the House-passed Cares Act since April and has not taken at active role in negotiations for a compromise.
He’s also now trying to cram in another Supreme Court Justice to take away abortion, voting rights, organized labor, marriage equality, LGBTQ rights, and anything else not favored by wealthy bigots.
Moreover, moderate Democrats in the House have apparently been besieged by attacks from GOP congressional opponents tying the bill to “defund the police.”
I wish I could write that Democrats tried harder to push back against the party that’s actively helping the President of the United States kill people.
“I’m not worried about [the marijuana bill]; I’m for it. I’d like to get it done,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Politico in a feature about the Democrats losing the messaging on marijuana legislation. However, he added that lawmakers should focus mainly on coronavirus aid and funding the government. “The other bills are not timely. We could pass them today, [or] we can pass them tomorrow.”
They don’t even bother to defend themselves or give white people credit enough to try and explain to them that eradicating racial disparities in our criminal justice system will not somehow harm them. They just take the knee for the cause of political cowardice.
For the record, those so terrified of the turn of phrase “Defund the Police” could have easily pushed back with the highlight reel of police officers beating the shit out of women, men, children, reporters, religious people, the elderly, and everyone else getting in their way. The same can be said for towns like Kenosha, Wisconsin of all places to have big ass tanks. It wasn’t hard; they didn’t try. They’re not trying now.
As far as the coronavirus relief bill goes, based on reporting, it sounds as if so long as Mark Meadows is blocking any effort between Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin to come to a compromise (how demoralizing), nothing will happen either way.
So spare us and just admit what this all really is.
Unsurprisingly, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a cosponsor of the bill, disagrees with the punting of the bill, arguing: “If you’re trying to punt it as a result of a political calculation, I disagree with that calculation. This is an enormously popular policy — not just for our base, but it’s also very popular amongst certain parts of registered Republican voters and independent voters. I think this is a win-win-win policy, and I think that we should be doing this before the election.”
Likewise, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who the entire party should just listen to more often than not, who explained, “This should be seen as a prime opportunity to address a form of systemic racism.”
Even if Joe Biden continues to be wrong about weed, proud consumers and visionaries understand where the country is on this issue, and more importantly, what reparative efforts could do for those wrongly hurt by the War on Drugs along with a country full of states that will need to generate revenue.
There’s also the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president. Consider how motivating that is for the ticket in need of enthusiasm from the groups not at all thrilled. But leave it to the Democrats to screw up messaging on weed legalization at a time when it’s getting so many of us through the pandemic.