House Democrats Could End Federal Marijuana Ban in 2019. Will They?

A blueprint for overhauling federal marijuana policy and lifting the nationwide ban on marijuana by the end of 2019 is currently circulating among congressional Democrats. With Democrats projected to hold a majority in the House next year, the end of national marijuana prohibition could be in sight.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer of cannabis-friendly Oregon is asking fellow Democrats to prioritize sweeping marijuana reforms if they win control of the House in the midterms, including protections for veterans who use medical marijuana and efforts to address the harms caused by prohibition in communities of color. Legalization is imminent, Blumenauer warns, and if Democrats don’t champion cannabis now, then President Trump could take the credit.

“If we fail to act swiftly, I fear as the 2020 election approaches, Donald Trump will claim credit for our work in an effort to shore up support — especially from young voters,” Blumenauer wrote in a memo to Democratic lawmakers as legal marijuana sales began across Canada last week. “Democrats must seize the moment.”

Democrats have good reason to worry about a Republican shift in favor of marijuana-friendly policies ahead of Trump’s re-election campaign. Poll after poll has shown that a majority of voters across the political spectrum support marijuana legalization. A Gallup survey released this week found that public support for legalization has reached an all-time high of 66 percent, which includes a majority of Republicans and older voters as well as an overwhelming majority of millennial voters.

“Hopefully lawmakers are paying attention to this clear trend in public opinion,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group backed by the cannabis industry, in a statement. “If they ignore these poll numbers, they do so at the risk of seeing a drop in their own.”

The number of…

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