Polls show over two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization at least in some form. Although there used to be a vast gap between Republicans and Democrats when it came to supporting legal cannabis, that gap seems to be closing. 48% of people polled by Gallup in 2020 who identified as Republicans said they think weed should be legal, and 49% of people who called themselves Conservatives said the same. That’s compared to 22% of Republicans polled in the year 2000 who said they supported legalization.
Right now, Republicans are moving to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and begin taxing and regulating the product similarly to how alcohol is controlled. South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace is leading the legislative effort, which she views as a compromise between what her party wants and legalization proposals made by Democrats. Mace describes her States Reform Act as a “turnkey federal tax and regulate framework for existing state laws.”
“SC has CBD, FL medical, CA adult-use; this bill allows these differences while protecting kids, vets, businesses, and those with serious illness,” the Representative tweeted. She’s also said it would support small businesses.
The States Reform Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess and use marijuana for recreational use. However, individual states would decide whether to allow it in their jurisdiction. The Act also regulates advertising for marijuana, aiming to protect children. It aims to make sure veterans who’ve used cannabis would be protected when it comes to job applications and access to benefits. It would also expunge criminal convictions for non-violent cannabis-related offenses, which Democrats have long supported.
Marijuana under the States Reform Act would be overseen by the Food and Drug Administration and taxed at 3% and individual states could add on their own taxes. That compares to a Senate proposal that would allow taxes as high as 25%.
A total of 36 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all have legal medical marijuana. Obviously, many of those states are Republican-led. 91% of American adults say marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational use.
“When the question is changed to legalization for medical purposes, a majority of most every subgroup of 18- to 29- year olds support, including by party, gender, and age. Overall, two-thirds (66%) would support this measure, 14 percent would oppose and the percentage of young people saying they are unsure is 19 percent,” a Harvard study found.
Not all Republican lawmakers are connected with their constituents when it comes to legalization. For instance, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) spoke out against marijuana in all forms, then rolled back her rhetoric after voters passed a medical marijuana law, suddenly saying she’d always supported medical marijuana when it is Google-able that she in fact had not. Governor Noem also led a fight in the Supreme Court to roll back the voter-approved bill that, for a brief moment, legalized recreational cannabis in that state.
CBD/Low THC Programs
Texas, Wyoming, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina all have laws allowing the use of CBD or products containing only trace amounts of THC. Voters approved medical marijuana in both Mississippi and South Dakota, but those laws were overturned by the states’ respective Supreme Courts in 2021.
Those That Remain
Nebraska, Kansas, and Idaho are the only remaining states with no form of publicly accessible cannabis.
Nebraska is heavily controlled by Republicans, running both the state House and Senate, the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office. The GOP has held control in the Cornhusker State since 1999.
Though the state doesn’t put first-time possession offenders in jail, Black people in Nebraska are nearly five times as likely as their White counterparts to be arrested for possession. This disproportion in arrests is not reflected in usage rates.
There is a medical marijuana bill moving through the state’s legislature. Democratic Senator Anna Wishart sponsored the legislation, which would allow certain patients to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, though the law would not legalize the smoking of medical marijuana.
The Nebraska Marijuana Legalization Initiative hopes to make it to the November 2022 ballot.
“The object of the Nebraska Cannabis Initiative Petition is to amend the Constitution of the State of Nebraska by adding a new Article XIX which states that all persons have the right to use all plants in the genus Cannabis L,” the proposed amendment’s object clause proudly states.
Idaho is in the same boat as Nebraska, with what’s called a “Republican trifecta” and a “Republican triplex” – meaning Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office, along with having a Conservative Attorney General and Secretary of State. It’s been that way since 1995, and Republicans have held power in the Senate and House there for even longer.
Idaho voters should get a chance to voice their opinions in the November 2022 election. The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for treatment of a debilitating health condition.
Those with medical marijuana cards would be allowed to possess up to four ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their homes.
Another initiative aims to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The Idaho Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize possession and use of up to three ounces of marijuana by adults aged 21 or older.
Kansas has a divided government, but it leans heavily right. The Governor is a Democrat, but Republicans fill the seats for the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and hold the majority in both the state’s House and Senate.
Polls show 70% of Kansans want legal medical marijuana, and lawmakers there have been pushing for it. The bill passed in the state’s House, but Kansas’ Senate doesn’t seem keen on allowing it to move forward. It’s already been tossed out of committee to a different panel, and hearings scheduled for the bill have been cancelled.
Democrats in the state are also pushing for adult-use marijuana to make it to Kansas’ November 2022 ballot, and are accusing Republicans of obstruction in those plans.
“It’s time for Kansas to catch up. It’s past time for us to listen to our constituents,” said House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer, who’s pushing for both medical and recreational marijuana to be legalized.