Incoming Congressional Advocates that Support Cannabis Legalization

Democrats gained no less than 40 seats in Congress last election day. That’s huge. In fact, it’s the biggest turnover in Congress since Watergate. But there are three incoming electees in particular whose presence in Washington bodes well for sunnier days for cannabis. 

Our first example, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is the top seed to chair the House Financial Services Committee. Waters told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that federal cannabis reform is “inevitable.” 

Waters has expressed that solving banking issues caused by federal prohibition is high on her list of priorities for the next Congress. This could have been a non-issue by now had Democrats won the House earlier. An amendment which would have protected banks from federal harassment was blocked from a vote last year by House Republicans. 

Another ray of sunshine for cannabis advocates is the victory of Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern (D) who is also gunning for federal reform as he readies to take the helm of the House Rules Committee. 

The hugely important committee was previously driven by infamous Texas Republican Pete Sessions who has been staunchly opposed to reforms. Sessions has used (some say abused) his power over the powerful committee to thwart the will of U.S. voters by preventing any marijuana amendments from reaching the House floor for debate.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has described Sessions as a “leading marijuana prohibitionist.” He single-handedly killed almost 40 marijuana-related bills before they had a chance to be heard including popular bipartisan measures such as giving military veterans access to medical cannabis.

Sessions was beaten by Texas Democrat Colin Allred who has been instrumental in organizing the Texas cannabis and hemp sectors

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), is the expected incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler is not known to tiptoe around the issue. He has made clear that he supports ending federal prohibition altogether. The Judiciary Committee is responsible for oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration. As chairman of the committee, Nadler has the power to assure that cannabis legislation comes up for a vote. 

Two long-time cannabis-friendly Republicans were also defeated. California Representative Dana Rohrabacher whose name graces the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer Amendment was beaten by Democrat Harley Rouda. And in Florida, MMJ champion Carlos Curbelo lost to Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsal-Powell. Although the two turnovers won’t change the balance of votes for federal reform, they do add to the breakup of Republican domination of the House. 

Representative Earl Blumenauer told reporters on Wednesday, “In terms of a victory for the continued momentum of cannabis legalization, it was a big night.” Blumenauer cited the fact that “three of the greatest obstructionists to progress are not coming back.”

Finally, Chalk up one more vote as influential Senator Joe Kennedy III (D) recently reversed his position on legal pot and is now calling for federal marijuana reform.

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