Many articles have been written about whether Trump or Biden, or Harris or Pence, is the best presidential combo for getting marijuana legalized at the Federal level. Will Trump pull a last-minute Hail Mary as some have suggested and legalize cannabis? Will Biden soften on his “decriminalize only” stance once he is elected, and actually legalize cannabis at the Federal level? All of these theme focus on who is on top, and that the decision will be based on the president.
In reality, that is not the case.
As Senator Ed Markey mentioned on the Young Jerks show, the most important thing for marijuana legalization is that the House stay Democratic and that the Senate goes Democratic. If both the House and the Senate go Democratic, they would have enough votes from “legal cannabis state senators and representatives” to override any presidential veto to a cannabis legalization bill.
If a Democratic House and Senate passed the STATES Act or More Act, would a Democratic president like Joe Biden veto a bill sent from both chambers of government and from his own party? No way. Joe would not longer have to worry about more conservative Democratic voters since he is already in office and would not want to be embarrassed vetoing a Democratic bill and then having his own party-controlled chambers overriding his veto. It would just make no sense on 10 different levels as the US faces massive unemployment, huge fiscal deficits, and empty coffers for pension funds and unemployment payments.
If Trump were to win re-election, he could still put the kibosh on marijuana legalization, but he would also be looking at the same puzzle Biden would face coming into office, how do I create jobs, create taxes, enjoy voter approval, and revive the economy? Cannabis legalization is a step in the right direction on all fiscal fronts, regardless of how you feel about the plant morally or philosophically. If Trump wins, but the House and Senate go Democratic, they would STILL have enough votes to override a Trump veto on the STATES and MORE act, so either way, a Democratic House and Senate hold the key to legalization, regardless of who is president.
One Act to Rule Them All
As a cannabis proponent, should you be rooting for the MORE Act, the STATES Act, or some presidential call to the DEA to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act? Assuming for the same reasons about that we are not seeing a singular presidential act, you have to be rooting for the more radical, MORE Act. The key distinction in both acts is the complete removal of cannabis from the CSA, hence creating legal interstate commerce for THC products (can cross a state line), and it would remove Federal penalties for cannabis possession, sales, and distribution. The States Act would technically leave all the decisions up to the states as far as marijuana policy, but would still keep the plant illegal at the Federal level. That is not what you want if you are ready to invest or starting a business in the cannabis space going forward. As the StockTwits newsletter said this week:
A democratic sweep in November will bring with it the passage of the STATES Act in the first year of the new administration. This would force the legislature to address: capital markets access, section 280E’s removal, and social equity. New adult sales from NM and VT in January will boost the marijuana rec. legal market. I expect marijuana legalization to pass in AZ and NJ in November, with NY, PA, CT and RI to follow closely suit. The STATES Act is the simplest and least contentious way for Congress to legalize cannabis. It is mirrored after the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which defers to the states all powers not given to the federal government. Ultimately, cannabis would remain illegal unless a state took action to legalize, and states would be free to legalize for medical use, recreational use or both. Given states would regulate cannabis sales with no federal government involvement, there would be no interstate commerce for cannabis (unless states were to enter compacts with each other to permit cannabis to move between them). Because of its broader political appeal, the STATES Act is a more likely path for legislation than the MORE Act that would remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances entirely.
So in reality, while a Democratic ticket of Biden/Harris is the best choice for cannabis legalization, it really doesn’t matter if the Senate goes Democratic this election. The two chambers of government would have enough votes and ammo to pass a bill like the STATES Act or MORE Act, and override any veto by the newly elected president.
Election night is exciting for people to match, but the main event isn’t the biggest story for cannabis fans this November, it is the undercard races for Senate spots in traditionally Republican states the most marijuana enthusiasts should be watching closely on election night.