Amidst two months of full-on election drama on a wildly different level than hanging chads, the voters of Georgia have positioned the United States for its largest cannabis policy change since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Tuesday night’s election sweep in the Georgia Senate runoff by Democrats may end up being one of those defining days in the weed history books alongside other days that opened the door to so much potential.
When the MORE Act passed last month, and like many a cannabis bill before it in the House of Representatives, the naysayers were quick to remind us of the bill’s potential in the Senate. Mitch McConnell’s Senate had been a place cannabis progress goes to die. Nobody is arguing that fact. Sure, he loves hemp, but he has not taken a liking to the real deal heat.
But as the MORE Act passed there was an unlikely variable – a new weed variable. A month before the MORE Act vote, Georgia voters did not give any Senate candidate the required 50% needed to win without a runoff. So as the naysayers started their typical chorus of the incremental progress not being good enough for them, this time activists had a new glimmer of hope to lock onto.
What if Georgia turned blue?
As the speculation took a break for the holidays, it was quickly back in our faces as we sent 2020 off into the sunset. And as the world watched the Democrats sweep in Georgia, the world of cannabis went to sleep wondering a thousand what-ifs. Timelines etched in stone a little deeper each time McConnell stalled cannabis policy reform faded from mind overnight.
We thought we would wake up to January 6 as another turning point in cannabis history. One of those moments that might get forgotten after we cross the finish line, yet a vital step if we’re to win the race. January 6, 2021, will certainly not be remembered for weed stuff.
But now as Americans start the process of rebuilding their greatest shrine to democracy, and we count down the days until Democrats take the reins of the Senate, cannabis advocates see a very positive future. After getting by the initial reality that there is some country-fixing to do before we get to the weed, things do look poised for monumental steps.
One of the craziest things about the cannabis side-story to the transition of power is the next ridiculous chapter it adds to the tale of marijuana and Kamala Harris. From laughing at the idea of cannabis policy reform as a district attorney to becoming its champion, to now being in a situation where she could break the tie on a legalization bill she introduced to the Senate. While people have talked a lot of shit about her prosecutorial past, me included, she would certainly get the last laugh were she to legalize cannabis on her own terms.
Through the haze of the political uncertainty of the last 24 hours, the nation’s oldest marijuana reform organization is thrilled to see what’s possible when they get back to work on Capitol Hill, helping lead the effort to pass the MORE Act.
“Despite all of our progress in 2020, with ballot initiative victories and the historic passage of the MORE Act in the House of Representatives, there remained one huge roadblock to finally ending federal prohibition and that roadblock was named Mitch McConnell,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told L.A. Weekly.
Altieri believes with control of the Senate switching back over to the Democrats, odds have never been better for advocates to move comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation through Congress.
“With Democrats in charge of the upper chamber, many of our closest allies in the Senate will take over chair positions on key committees and Senator Chuck Schumer, who has already pledged to schedule hearings and votes for crucial marijuana legislation should his party take power, as majority leader, we couldn’t be in a better position to achieve true federal reform in 2021,” Altieri said.
The National Cannabis Industry Association echoed NORML’s enthusiasm about the months to come.
“We are pretty excited. Even though it could be a challenge to get 60 votes on anything in the coming session, we are confident that we’ll be able to get hearings on both incremental and comprehensive legislation more easily with Democrats in charge of the chamber,” NCIA Media Relations Director Morgan Fox told L.A. Weekly.
Fox argues despite seeing cannabis have some of its most historical wins ever in recent years, the best is yet to come. “With Schumer as majority leader and VP-Elect Harris as the Senate president, we will be in a more favorable position than in the recent past,” Fox said.