Democrats lose control of marijuana messaging

Democrats have been scared off by Republicans’ use of the marijuana bill to bludgeon Democrats on the lack of a coronavirus deal, and moderates in tight races worry it will be linked to hits they’re already taking over the “defund the police” movement. So instead of embracing the progressive messaging of this bill as an election win, House leaders are now thinking about punting marijuana until after November 3.

“In about two weeks, the conversation has gone from ‘no problem’ to people now doing a stutter step, maybe trying to … avoid this vote altogether,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), a co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition and a strong supporter of cannabis legislation. “[It] should have been a non-partisan vote, support on both sides of the aisle.”

Marijuana legalization has far-reaching national support from Democrats, independents and even a majority of Republicans, multiple polls show. Democrats have touted the MORE Act all summer as a criminal justice reform bill, amid ongoing protests over racial equity that a majority of the public supports. A disproportionate number of Black or brown people are arrested for cannabis possession each year, and this bill aims to reduce arrests and erase some marijuana criminal records.