Written by: Russ Belville – HighTimes
How exciting for Michigan and North Dakota to be voting on marijuana legalization and for Missouri and Utah to be voting on medical cannabis. What a time to be alive!
In general, it’s a great election for marijuana–unless you live in a state that’s not voting to end marijuana prohibition, right?
Wrong! With help from our friends at NORML, we’ve identified three candidates who may be on your ballot for the US House of Representatives who could make a huge difference in state and federal marijuana policy.
If you live near Amarillo, Texas, you may have the chance to remove the single greatest roadblock to federal marijuana law reform in the House of Representatives. Congressman Pete Sessions (no relation to the Attorney General Jeff Sessions), is ranked an “F” recipient in NORML’s Congressional Scorecard.
Bipartisan efforts in Congress to let US states move forward with legalization have all been thwarted by Sessions, who chairs a powerful committee and refuses to allow our issue to get a vote. We might have state protection from federal law enforcement, or banks that can work with state-legal marijuana businesses, or relief from drug dealer tax penalties, or veterans being given access to medical marijuana from VA doctors, and more, if Pete Sessions (TX-32) was voted out of a job.
How would you feel if your state wanted to legalize marijuana sales, but a congressman from a nearby state was able to stop you? What if that congressman then threatened to have your governor sent to federal prison for enacting legalization that your state voted for?
That’s the anger the people of Washington, D.C., feel about Congressman Andy Harris (NORML: F). Sure, the District of Columbia isn’t a state (though it has a larger population than Vermont or Wyoming), and that’s the problem. Congress has ultimate authority over D.C., specifically, its budget.
That’s where Harris comes in. Ever since D.C. voted in 2014 to legalize possession and cultivation by 70 percent, Harris has added a line to the federal budget that prohibits D.C. from spending any of its budget on enacting pro-marijuana laws. This is currently preventing D.C. from having taxed and regulated marijuana sales. Harris even wished aloud that the next Republican administration would prosecute D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for allowing legalization to proceed.
If you’re voting in Eastern Maryland (MD-1), you might help D.C. further its legalization if Andy Harris were no longer in the House.
Voters from the Everglades to Key West (FL-26) have a chance to vote for one of the best members of Congress on the marijuana issue, Carlos Curbelo (NORML: A). But the two-term Republican is currently running neck-and-neck with his Democratic challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
NORML PAC endorsed Curbelo as “a leader in the reform efforts on Capitol Hill.” His opponent, meanwhile, is one of the few national Democrats who seems to lack any public comment on the issue of marijuana. Of the scant five Republican House incumbents NORML PAC has endorsed, Curbelo is the only one in any danger of losing his seat. Curbelo surviving a blue wave of Trump backlash thanks to his marijuana support could encourage other Republicans to embrace federal marijuana reform.
No matter where you live, there is something or someone on your ballot worth voting for or against. Visit vote.NORML.org to learn who is on your ballot and how they feel about marijuana.