Which U.S. party is going to take a leadership role in advancing marijuana reform after the midterm elections? It depends on whom you ask.
Both U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, and Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, indicated on Oct. 11, 2018, that their respective parties would be backing legislation to change federal cannabis laws in the months after November 2018’s critical election. Rohrabacher said that he’d received assurances that the White House would support reform efforts during the 116th Congress, which begins in January 2019.
“It could be as early as spring of 2019, but definitely in the next legislative session,” he said to Fox Business on Oct. 11, 2018, noting that President Donald Trump planned to keep his promise to support a bipartisan bill to protect legal states from federal interference.
Later, Blumenauer — a close colleague of the Republican congressman when it comes to cannabis reform efforts — said that Democrats would promote legislation to change cannabis laws in the first half of 2019 if his party retakes the House.
“With Democrats in control, we will be able to have the legislative process work and we’ll see more progress in a relatively short order, I think,” Blumenauer told Bloomberg on Oct. 11, 2018.
“These will be some of the easiest things to do in the first six months of a new Congress because they’re supported by the public, the legislation is already teed up and ready to go,” Blumenauer said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s one of these areas of progress that will show we can get our act together and move forward.”
“It doesn’t have to be the top priority. It’s simpler than health care or global warming. And it’s supported by the public. I think it’s a no-brainer. I think it moves in the next six months.”
Blumenauer seems to be breaking somewhat from the Democratic Party’s leadership. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, for example, said in September 2018 that top Democrats haven’t yet “talked about” promoting federal marijuana legislation if the party retakes the House in the Nov. 6, 2018, midterm elections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California also suggested that the fate of federal cannabis reform would depend, in part, on the will of the president.
“I don’t know where the president is on any of this,” Pelosi said. “So any decision about how we go forward would have to reflect where we can get the result.”
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