Fivethirtyeight: Americans Want to Legalize Cannabis, Why Won’t Uncle Sam Listen?

Poll after poll, electoral victory after electoral victory, and cultural advancement after advancement, it’s clear that a supermajority of Americans want to end cannabis prohibition. It’s been maddening for many longtime drug policy reformers that elected officials across the nation and in Washington, DC, haven’t followed the will of the voters. Public opinion has gotten to such a high watermark that mainstream political observers have taken notice, including Fivethirtyeight.com which takes on why the federal government won’t legalize marijuana when voters from across the political spectrum want to:

“For starters, not all Senate Democrats back Schumer’s plan, and Senate Republicans have yet to show any support for legalization. Additionally, while legalizing marijuana is popular, it isn’t a top priority for many voters. That may be, in part, due to the success of legalization efforts at the state level. More than one in three Americans live in states where marijuana is already legal for recreational use, and a sizable majority live in states where marijuana is legal for medical use. For those who already have access to the drug, it may not matter whether it’s their state government or the federal government making that allowance. Finally, as my colleague Perry Bacon Jr. pointed out earlier this year, electoral politics are increasingly disconnected from policy, meaning that despite the popularity of marijuana legalization, there may simply not be a ton of electoral benefit for Biden for taking up the issue.

“Still, if the polling is any indication, legalizing marijuana is hugely popular, and Biden may yet change his mind, depending on how the politics of the bill play out. And if he does, he may even get some brownie points from Republican voters who support legalization. But if things start to get politically messy, Biden may not have a lot to lose by passing on championing this particular issue.”

With nonpartisan popular support, the US House passing legalization and the SAFE Banking Act, and the Senate Majority Leader supporting legalization, we are on the precipice of ending federal prohibition. However, the corporate interests and prison-industrial complex that have benefited from Reefer Madness policies, won’t give up power easily. We’re gonna have to fight even harder to secure the votes in the Senate and a presidential signature. With the truth and the people on our side, freedom and equality for the cannabis community is within reach. Let’s keep it up.

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