Red State Democrats think marijuana legalization could be the key to winning

In states like Indiana and West Virginia, Donald Trump is popular but marijuana is even more popular.

Feb 18, 2018
High-ranking Democrats like New Jersey Senator Cory Booker have put their weight behind the push to legalize weed.

Legalizing marijuana at the federal level, is at the top of Sen. Cory Booker’s agenda. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Democrats are in a strange place. Their game plan was foiled in 2016 by Trump’s shocking presidential victory. Now, their best shot at retaking some control is the midterm congressional elections, a feat they’ve never been great at as local politicians are left underfunded. The scandals surrounding the administration are bolstering Democrats, but there’s a lot of territories where that simply won’t be enough. Some Democrats think they’ve found the issue they need to turn that around: marijuana. 

In states like Indiana and West Virginia, Donald Trump is popular, but, according to polls, marijuana is even more popular. Before becoming the Vice President, Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana, a state that isn’t being eyed to flip blue, but also doesn’t even permit CBD oil. Attorney Dan Canon is willing to see how much Indianans care.

Canon was an attorney in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that federally legalized same-sex marriage. Politico profiled Canon and West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, a retired Army major. Both are running as Democrats in red states, and are including legal marijuana as key parts of their platforms. In Texas, legalization proponent and Democrat Beto O’Rourke is also looking to unseat Senator Ted Cruz. 

Red State Democrats hope legalizing marijuana will flip elections 1 of 2 How to microdose weed and treat anxiety
WEIRTON, WV APRIL 28: Ryan Neely, 38, arrested for marijuana possession, poses for a portrait at his home in Weirton, West Virginia, on April 29, 2014. While many states and jurisdictions are legalizing (decriminalizing or approving for medical use) marijuana, others such as Weirton, West Virginia, are still enforcing laws as they always have. In some cases, the enforcement is a funding source as local departments get grants and resources from Drug Enforcement and other Federal agencies. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“The majority of Republicans running throughout the country are out of touch with the people in their districts,” said Canon on the subject of cannabis. “They think they can hammer that ‘law and order’ message all day long.”

Candidates like Canon and Ojeda are willing to see which of the two passions blazes brighter. Democrats are divided on a lot of policy, such as single-payer healthcare. But the topic of cannabis seems to be much more unifying. High-ranking Democrats like New Jersey Senator Cory Booker have put their weight behind the push to legalize weed.

Up in Canada, Trudeau’s Liberal party made cannabis one of their central running items in 2015, and not only did they beat the incumbent Progressive Conservatives but they secured a majority government. Since then, Trudeau has either dropped or deprioritized many campaign promises, such as electoral reform, but legal cannabis has remained on the fast track. It suggests the Liberals are willing to bet that weed will be popular enough to secure them more elections. It may be still be scoffed at by political bodies, but by aligning with weed while Jeff Sessions ranks and files the Republicans against it, the Democrats may have found their secret weapon.

“I think we are on the verge of eventually voting in favor of marijuana,” said Ojeda, “Anyone with half a brain should know that marijuana should never be Schedule I.”

Feb 18, 2018