Republicans Join Push for Pot Legalization, Decriminalization Samples of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 21 November 2021 09:59 AM
Once a Democrat push, Republicans are joining in on the mass legalization of marijuana, which has 70% support among America in polling, Politico reported.
Even the red state of South Carolina, which has yet to have even medical marijuana, boasts a GOP member introducing the first Republican bill in Congress to decriminalize marijuana.
"It's really past time that the federal government just get out of the way, provide a tax, tax it and regulate it, and let states legally do what they've already been doing for almost two and a half decades," Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., told Fox News this week.
Democrats have long owned the issue of legalization, but the tides are turning as Republicans are paying attention to polling and seeking to capitalize on Democrats' failure to move Congress on it.
"When the culture becomes more accepting of something, even the most resistant groups get tugged along," North Star Opinion Research's Dan Judy told Politico. "I don't want to directly conflate marijuana legalization with something like gay marriage, but I think there's a similar dynamic at play."
Even the groups that used to campaign against legalization are folding on the issue, according to Judy.
"There's definitely a strong sense in a lot of places that the train is leaving the station," he told Politico.
"This is an issue where there's not a ton of partisan division. In this day and age, to find any issues with majority bipartisan support is like finding a unicorn."
And Democrats are worried they are going to lose young voters to Republicans because of it.
"We're now in a race," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in an interview the week after the 2020 election, according to the report. "If Republicans beat Democrats on marijuana legalization, they're just one or two of those kinds of social issues away from totally just eroding a ton of goodwill [that Democrats are trying to build with voters]."
Mace's bill does not include the high taxes on cannabis either, has less regulation, and expunges past nonviolent marijuana convictions.
"I tried to be very thoughtful about what I put in the bill that would appeal to Democrats and Republicans, which is why criminal justice reform is part of it; it's why the excise tax is low," Mace told Politico.
Among the Republicans backing legalization in states without it are Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
"Every two years, you get a new crop of members from both parties, but certainly from the Republican Party, who don't have to defend the drug war," former Maryland GOP state delegate Don Murphy told Politico, "and they don’t have to prop it up.
"They are free to vote their conscience."