Well, of course not. They don’t call him Marijuana Mitch, do they?
Cocaine Mitch supporting legalized weed would be like Google supporting tax breaks for Apple or Amazon. Why give the competition an advantage?
Although … legalized weed would mean wider consumption of America’s most famous alleged “gateway drug,” which in theory should sound pretty good to a Kentucky-Chinese cocaine cartel.
I understand why McConnell doesn’t want to touch this. It’s a livewire, the midterms are six months away, and the GOP’s elderly base is pretty much the lone remaining bloc that opposes legalization. It’s a pity, though, because it polls exceptionally well across the population and would be a quick and dirty means of outreach to younger voters, among whom the Republican Party is poison. Democrats are going to grab this issue with both hands in 2020 and try to use it to drive turnout in their favor among more casual voters. If he’s still in charge of the Senate next year Cocaine Mitch should think seriously about doing it, especially if he has a Democratic House to give him some bipartisan cover. In the meantime, this is a rare cultural hot button that no longer divides sharply on party lines, per CBS’s poll from last month:
The Republican number there is an outlier, as you rarely see a plurality or majority of GOPers in favor of legalization. But the minority that supports the idea is growing. From a Quinnipiac poll also taken last month:
Note that support among Trump’s base of whites without a college degree is lofty at 62 percent. Both polls also find majorities of Republicans in favor of the feds deferring to state law in states where marijuana is legal. The most interesting numbers, though, come from follow-up questions in CBS’s survey. When asked whether marijuana or alcohol is the more harmful to one’s health, 43 percent of Republicans say booze versus just 13 percent who say weed. (Another 32 percent say they’re equally harmful.) When asked whether marijuana is more or less dangerous than other drugs, 56 of GOPers say less compared to just six percent who say more.
That is to say, the stigma around the drug is collapsing. To the extent that Republicans still favor prohibiting it, their objection may have less to do with the specifics of marijuana and more to do with conservative veneration of tradition. Marijuana’s been banned for many years, there must have been a good reason why it was banned, ergo let it stay banned. A majority of Americans disagree, though, and liberals know it.