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Why Aren’t Democrats Making Marijuana a Midterm Issue?

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Yesterday Canada legalized recreational marijuana, so obviously a lot of commentary revolved around when the United States would follow suit. But now people are wondering why the heck Democrats aren’t asking those same questions?

Many people are asking why Democrats aren’t making marijuana an issue in the upcoming midterm elections. Around 60 percent of the American public support legalization, and almost 80 percent of Democratic voters. And yet the party refuses to make marijuana an issue on the campaign trail.

In fact, they’re not only not bringing up the issue, they’re even throwing cold water on it. Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn (arguably the three highest ranking Democrats in the House of Representatives) have all stated that they have no plans to push legislation related to marijuana legalization if their party takes back the House next month. They say they’re more committed to creating jobs, infrastructure and housing.

On one hand, it makes sense to not go all-in on marijuana. While 60 percent of Americans support legalization, the issue still ranks near the bottom in terms of importance for many voters. But still, if it can help appeal to moderate or independent voters, why not bring it up?

Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in an interview that Democrats may be fearing attacks from Republicans for being weak on drugs the same way they were attacked for being weak on crime in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Except 60 percent of people support being weak on drugs,” so you’d think those attacks would backfire.

And even if it wasn’t a party-wide initiative, why wouldn’t individual candidates push marijuana, especially those in competitive races?

(h/​t Newsweek)

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