Does the Democratic Senate actually have sufficient energy to legalize marijuana nationwide?

The Democratic Senate leadership has vowed to legalize marijuana at the federal level in 2021. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden announced Earlier this week, they will soon enact laws to end the marijuana ban nationwide. This is exactly what cannabis advocates hoped for when the Democrats took control of the Senate and toppled Mitch McConnell one step.

Now all that remains for Democrats to do is hold a few hearings, shuffle some papers, and vote on a cannabis bill and marijuana will be all but legal in the eyes of the US government, right? It’s more complicated than that.

One of the main problems with reaching marijuana-centric issues through Congress this year is that the Democrats really don’t have the power to make it happen. Sure, the Senate majority leader Schumer has made some media appearances discussing how marijuana reform is a priority for the Senate, but that doesn’t mean much. Any bill that the Democrats put on the table may not have the votes required to pass. The Senate is evenly divided at this session, with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaker. This means Democrats must continue to work closely with Republicans to get enough support for legal weed. But division will make that difficult.

RELATED: Senate Democratic Leaders Announce Plan to Federally Legalize Marijuana in 2021

And then there’s Mitch McConnell and his gang of cronies. Even if McConnell is no longer the majority leader, rest assured that he can still cause marijuana legalization issues. You may recall hearing a lot of noise about a filibuster lately. It’s a rule that allows senators to have lengthy debates to stall or prevent majority-backed legislation from being passed. McConnell fought like a dog to keep the Democrats from crushing the filibuster this year, and rightly so. Only in this way can he still control the Senate as the leader of a minority. At the moment the filibuster is alive. And it has to live on if the Democrats expect something to be achieved.

“I made it clear that if Democrats ever attack the Senate’s key rules, they would lose the institution’s approval and sympathy.” McConnell tweeted last week. “A scorched earth Senate would hardly work.”

Photo by Caroline Brehman-Pool / Getty Images

While we don’t understand the full scope of the marijuana legalization package that the democratically controlled Senate plans to put in place in the coming months, one thing is certain: anything to legalize marijuana nationally requires bipartisan support to bridge the distance.

T.This means getting McConnell and his supporters on board in some way. Even if the Democrats are close to garnering the necessary votes to bring marijuana legislation to the upper chamber, the filibuster could still sabotage the deal. McConnell, who for years prevented marijuana-related bills from taking shape in the Senate, has likely already viewed the filibuster as his lifeline to keep the legal cannabis industry from gaining ground.

What Chuck Schumer Can Do For Marijuana As Senate Majority LeaderPhoto by Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

Just because the Senate leadership introduces a law to legalize marijuana doesn’t mean it has White House support. And it will need it. President Biden has shown no interest in full legalization. Instead, he has given all the signs that he would campaign for humble marijuana reforms to get people out of jail for weeds. In Biden, everything revolves around research. He would like to see more scientific involvement in the cannabis scene before deciding on something that would allow a taxed and regulated marijuana market to take off.

RELATED: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Says Nationwide Marijuana Reform Is Underway

It is possible that Vice President Harris, a big proponent of ending the marijuana ban, could lead Biden to accept broader reforms. But she has indicated that she would not press him on any question if it mattered. Unfortunately, getting a law legalizing marijuana into the books at full steam in 2021 will prove difficult.

RELATED: Canceling Cannabis? Some lawmakers in newly legal states are sure to try

Unless the Democrats have devised a brilliant scheme to wrap it up in much larger piece of legislation, like sweeping criminal justice law. Even then, the chances of it passing are slim. But let’s see what they have up their sleeves. America might be pleasantly surprised.

Comments are closed.