Democratic Senate Control Could Be Great for Marijuana Reform

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The marijuana reform movement could experience a tremendous boost in 2017, if the Democrats manage to take control of the Senate following the November election.

Although there have been a number of marijuana-related proposals introduced in Congress over the past few years, including the infamous CARERS Act and Bernie Sanders’ Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, the Republicans have refused to allow any of these proposals so much as a hearing. But if the Democrats take over next Tuesday, the party could change all of that by putting a committee chairman in charge who will be a bit more enthusiastic about the reform of national marijuana laws.

According to a recent report from Roll Call, Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy stands the best chance at stripping the gavel out of the hands of Republican Charles Grassley—a staunch opposing force to the marijuana movement. This could mean great things for the cause, especially considering that Leahy seems at least somewhat onboard with protecting the sanctity of states that have legalized the leaf for whatever purpose.

“I’ve long urged the federal government to stay away from states where they have legalized the use of marijuana, or legalized medical marijuana,” Leahy told the Atlantic in 2013. “We only have so many resources for law enforcement and to waste time on these minor marijuana measures or waste time on marijuana in states where it is legal makes absolutely no sense.”

Reports indicate that the Democratic Party has a fair shot at winning control of the Senate this year, needing a net of only four seats to make this happen if Hillary Clinton is elected as our next president.

A recent Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report indicates that Democrats will likely achieve this mission. Here is how:

“Democrats still look likely to take over Illinois and Wisconsin, bringing the fight for control of the Senate down to six states: Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, and Missouri. Democrats need to win three of those six states for control because winning Nevada would just be holding a seat they already control,” the report reads.

While drug reform advocates say they would be more optimistic about the progress of marijuana legalization if Leahy takes over, this alone does not guarantee that a lucky piece of legislation geared toward cannabis reform will make it to the desk of the next president for a signature.

A recent report from the web-based gambling resource Casino Online found that out of the thousands of bills that get introduced in the halls of Congress, only four percent of them become law. And when it comes to all things pertaining to drug-related issues, the study authors said these issues have 26-to-1 odds of being enacted—making it more likely to strike it rich with a bet on a three-legged horse at next year’s Kentucky Derby than seeing any concrete changes being made in respect to national marijuana policy.

Still, many supporters believe the outcome of the upcoming election will serve as the turning point for the grand scheme of marijuana legalization. That’s because with Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada expected to end prohibition this year—not to mention four more states set to decide on medical marijuana—there could be a larger percentage of Congress fighting to protect green jurisdictions in 2017.

“What happens with these nine states on the 8th could propel a breakthrough in Congress and it’s going to be a huge signal to the other folks around the country,” Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer told Roll Call.

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