In an era where the Republican Party has crossed the line fully into neofascism, few issues are truly bipartisan. Cannabis reform is one of those few. In an earlier era, this situation would have seemed like a major victory. Now, it’s downright dangerous. It could potentially imperil both the legal weed industry and individual consumers (who are also citizens).
In government, most of the strident opposition to reforming cannabis policy comes from Republicans. And most of the reform efforts come from Democrats. Pot would almost certainly be legal by now if it weren’t for stonewalling by Republicans, particularly in the Senate, where the filibuster still gives Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a lot of power, since a supermajority is needed to pass any cannabis reforms.
But there is also a substantial amount of support for reform among Republicans, both in Congress (where even some straight-up fascist goons like Matt Gaetz are pro-weed, though of course they tend to treat the issue as just another excuse to be jerky) and among the population.
In recent years, overall support for full federal legalization has swelled to about 70%. The most recent increases are attributable almost entirely to Republican voters getting on board with the idea. Most Democrats were already there. Nearly 60% of Republicans ages 18 to 49 now favor legalization. Past that age, support drops off rather steeply, and total GOP support for legalization now sits at just under half. Among Democrats, support is more than 85%.
Does this mean proponents of cannabis reform should support Republicans who are on their side on this single issue, if their Democratic opponents are deemed to be too lax on the issue, or even oppose reforms? Unless those weed-proponents are fascists (which, going by observation, a disturbingly large minority of them seem to be) the answer has to be no. Fascism is bad! It’s bad not only for the country as a whole (obviously), but even, potentially, for the legal-weed business. Just look at Nazi Germany, where the only businesses that did well were the ones that played footsie with the Third Reich. If you’re worried about issues like industry concentration, profiteering and environmental harms, fascists in power will only make things worse. The thing about fascists is that they like to crush their enemies. That might turn out to be people who run equity businesses, independent growers, environmentally responsible companies and any business that opposes anti-democratic ideas, which most of them do.
Then there’s the fact that, despite the recent increases in support for weed among Republicans, a majority of the GOP still opposes legal cannabis. Voting for a (seemingly) pro-pot Republican candidate is still voting for a party that, as a whole, is blocking reform efforts.
Most pot prohibitionists are conservative Republicans, and they are using the same kinds of anti-democratic tactics they are using on voting rights and other issues. CounterPunch recently published an article on the underhanded tactics prohibitionists are using to block legalization in states where a majority supports it. In Mississippi and South Dakota last year, they went to court to nullify the will of the voters, striking down legalization referendums (in Mississippi, 73% of the electorate favored legalization; in South Dakota, that figure was 54%).
This year, they’re pulling similar stuff in other states, such as in Arkansas and Missouri. They lie about the legitimacy of signatures on ballot measures and make legally dubious claims in courts. In Arkansas, they filed a lawsuit to preempt a planned voter initiative by claiming that it would run counter to the “interests and rights of Arkansans who oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.” That’s some novel jurisprudential philosophy right there: If a minority of people don’t want something legalized, their “rights” are somehow being violated.
This is all happening because, as Counterpunch’s Paul Armentano put it, the prohibitionists “have lost the hearts and minds of the American public. And they know it.”
Pro-cannabis voters should remember that it’s not just the active prohibitionists who have gone nuts because they’ve lost the hearts and minds of the American public as a whole: It’s the entire Republican Party.
Originally posted on EastBayExpress.com