The Georgian Senate race could be the determining factor in national cannabis policy.
It was a successful year for cannabis law in the United States. This November, voters showed their support for cannabis accessibility by bringing legal cannabis to a number of new states. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters opted for legalizing adult recreational cannabis use. New laws protecting medical cannabis use have also been passed in Mississippi and South Dakota. This means that 15 states now have laws to protect recreational cannabis use and 36 laws to protect medical use, even though possession of cannabis is still illegal under federal law.
Amid those victories, the MORE Act, a new piece of cannabis law under scrutiny by Congress, could make big changes in federal cannabis policy. However, whether the MORE bill translates it into law depends on whether it is passed by the Senate. Your chances of getting through the Senate depend largely on whether Mitch McConnell and the Republicans retain majority control or whether the Democrats are able to keep the balance and take control of the Senate. If Democratic candidates win both Senate seats for re-election in Georgia’s controversial runoff elections this week, there’s still a chance the MORE bill will be passed.
Given the fate of national cannabis policy in Georgia’s hands, it is worth asking whether Georgians support cannabis reform. Finally, the upcoming cannabis legislation could give those who support the reform additional motivation to get out there and vote. But do a majority of Georgians support legal access to cannabis? Recent polls suggest it.
The MORE Act, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, remove cannabis from federal controlled substances law, and remove nonviolent convictions for cannabis at the federal level, has already received unprecedented levels of support from government officials. It was sponsored by elected Vice President Kamala Harris and has already been passed by the House of Representatives, which was mainly elected by Democratic representatives. However, the MORE bill has yet to be approved by the Senate in order to turn it into law. This is unlikely unless the Democrats get control of the Senate.
If cannabis supporters emerge for the Georgia runoff election, it could have a big impact. The runoff elections take place because no candidate received at least 50% of the votes in the November elections. In Georgia, at least 50% is required for an election. This week, two Republican incumbents will battle two Democratic challengers. The results will affect not just cannabis legislation, but any laws that go through Congress until the next election.
If Republicans can keep even one of their Senate seats, they keep majority control. But if both Democrats win the runoff, there would be an even 50/50 split between the two parties. In that case, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaker. Since she is also the sponsor of the MORE bill, it is likely that the MORE bill will successfully pass the Senate if the Democrats take control.
Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect and Sponsor of the MORE Act, speaks at a drive-in rally in … [+]
With Georgians in power to determine the fate of the Senate, their views on cannabis legalization could come into play if they cast their vote in a close ballot. Fortunately for cannabis aficionados, Georgia seems to be interested in cannabis. A recent survey conducted by Civiqs found that 69% of Georgians believe cannabis use should be legal, a number slightly above the national average of the same survey – 68%.
The national results of the Civiqs survey mirror the results of other national surveys this year. A recent Gallup poll also found that 68% of Americans support full legalization of cannabis. That number has actually doubled in the last 20 years, showing the drastic shift in public opinion regarding cannabis. A YouGov.com poll also found that 70% of Americans support the abolition of beliefs related to cannabis.
Perhaps Georgians’ support for cannabis will influence the election result and bring more votes for the democratic candidates. Only time can tell.