The Democrats officially have control of Congress and plan to legalize marijuana in one way or another nationwide in 2021. This is a major challenge considering that political power at its end isn’t deep enough to just be in charge. Even so, the Senate Democratic leadership says it is keen to push for sweeping marijuana reform while keeping the party in control.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with two other Senators, recently announced that they would publish “a single draft discussion on broad issues in the coming months [marijuana] Reforms to ensure restorative equity, protect public health, and implement responsible taxes and regulations. “It will be one of their top priorities in the new session.
Regardless of what Senate Democrats aim to achieve this year, legalizing marijuana nationwide won’t be an easy task. The upper chamber is evenly divided, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the casting vote. However, the past month has shown painfully the need for bipartisan support for federal legalization of marijuana. So, at this session, the Democrats have to play it safe to make sure they don’t upset the Republicans. This could cost them every chance of passing even the smallest pot reform.
The Senate recently reached a power-sharing agreement. One of the main concerns of both parties was the fate of the filibuster. This old rule requires a majority of 60 votes on controversial issues. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t want it to die and almost refused to negotiate with Democrats until they agreed to keep it in the game.
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McConnell later said he would look into the deal with Schumer after learning that the Democrats didn’t have the votes to independently wipe the filibuster. The Senate Majority Leader Schumer has basically made a gentlemen’s deal with McConnell, promising not to touch the filibuster. However, since nothing has been put into writing, its future is nothing short of a political wild card.
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Right now, the parties are at odds over President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. The Democrats approved the package in the Senate last week without a Republican vote. It was a move that upset Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who pointed out that tensions in the Senate were high from the start. McConnell spoke of how “unity” is a hot discussion on Capitol Hill: “White House staff and Congressional Democrats work by the opposite game book.”
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McConnell and the gang were unable to object to Biden’s Auxiliary Bill because it was passed through a budget vote – a process that allows the Senate to pass tax and spending laws by simple majority. This type of legislative measure is filibuster safe. The only problem is that not everything on the democratic agenda can be done this way, including federal legalizing marijuana.
The only way Democrats could pass a law to legalize marijuana through Congress this year without having to get really creative would be to get back on their word and kill the filibuster. That is, if they can get the votes for it. But it would take the support of every democratic member to achieve this.
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For the sake of argument, let’s say the Democrats find a way to root out the filibuster and pass laws on legalizing marijuana and anything else President Biden wants to achieve. McConnell said such a move against the filibuster would create a “scorched earth Senate.” If the filibuster is used against Republicans, it could lead to a situation where all marijuana reform bills passed under democratic control will simply be thrown off the books once the Republicans take back power.
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“The next time the Republicans control the government, we can overturn any bill that has just been rammed through,” McConnell told reporters. “But a few years later the Democrats would try to turn everything back. Instead of reaching a stable consensus, we would exchange the party platforms chaotically. “
Unfortunately, marijuana legalization is not something Democrats can do without support from everywhere. Some Republicans have to do whatever they can to get it over the top, whatever they bring in. But the split in Congress continues to be an obstacle to achieving anything, and that will not change just because a seemingly more sensible party now has a narrow majority.
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It definitely won’t be the best political environment for marijuana reform longevity if they destroy the filibuster. If Democrats become desperate and spit on Republicans just to go down in history as the party to end the cannabis ban, the outcome, as McConnell suggested in the press, would only be a temporary victory. It will be a while before the parties can agree on how the future of the nation should be shaped.
Unfortunately, this struggle could mess up the concept of federal marijuana legalization for many years.