As we look at the narration for President Biden’s accomplishments during the first two years of his administration which don’t get the attention it deserves, the mid-terms become a real measurement of how the voters view them and the way the Senate and House guide that success.
Regardless, the GOP is widely expected to win the majority in the House and Senate in this November’s mid-term elections. History teaches us that the party in power loses in the mid-terms as it serves as a referendum to the voters as to whether the governing party should stay in power for the next two years until the 2024 Presidential elections. In other words, as we’ve seen, the Dems seeking re-election in the House and Senate are screwed. Many voices of reason on both sides are not running again; the cost of constant examination and negative campaigning has taken its toll for a lot of politicians who opted to serve the public to keep the US in the right in a world of wrongs.
Enter Cannabis to save the union. First myth to destroy is that consumption and desire to see it legalized nationally is a partisan issue. This storyline show the fallacy of that assumption as Democrats and Republicans consume Cannabis and support legalization equally.
That said, the GOP has taken a back seat to reaching out to the multi generational consumers of Cannabis; they as a party still think of Cannabis as “evil weed” and “Reefer Madness.” A majority of GOP’s on a national level still see it that way. The perfect example is the disconnect between the House and the Senate on the big issue of banks accepting the ability of those in the Cannabis industry to get access to legal banking with the SAFE Banking Act as well as the MORE Act. Last week, for the second time, the House approved the law; it is fully expected to be rejected by the Senate again and forcing Cannabis companies to rely on private equity to fund their growth.
This presents Democrats with an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the GOP’s outright rejection of any bi-partisan legislation toward the above issues, as well as addressing other concerns about social equity, erasing the barriers to access for those marginalized communities who bore the brunt of the failed war on drugs, expunging records for minor offenses and other matters of importance as part of their platforms and active policies. These issues are important to many and never really addressed by politicians in the past due to the stigma around Cannabis and its community. Having a record prevents people from getting jobs, access to federal housing, being eligible for federal and state loans, and basically creating a vicious cycle of failure rather than success for a large part of their constituency. And, until recently in an ironic way, they were prevented from getting legitimate employment opportunities in the Cannabis industry.
Credit to NY Governor Hochul for recognizing this disenfranchised group of voters and coming up with a solution that addresses several wrongs as indicated above. Recently, she made national news with her announcement that NY State will be issuing their first few hundred licenses for those who were incarcerated for minor Cannabis offenses. She is in a very tight race for re-election this November. Her GOP opponent, Lee Zeldin’s polling shows them in a dead heat. Additionally, she has created a $200 million grant program that will help licensed equity applicants find, lease and renovate storefronts into Cannabis dispensaries, thus removing some of the many barriers to access that community faces. As of November, 2021, NY state had either expunged or in the process of expunging the records of close to 400,000 people, many of whom were disproportionately black, brown and Latino. That’s a large group of untapped voters who can turn this close election into a smash for Hochul. I’m not saying her actions aren’t coming from her heart; rather, I’m saying it’s also a very smart political move and one that the Democrats who find themselves in tight races, which is just about anyone running for re-election this year, should think about.
We currently have 18 states where adult-use Cannabis is legal. When you add the states with only medical, we’re looking at 37 states. That’s a lot of people of all ages who used the power of their vote to affect these changes and want representatives that share their opinion. To all the Democrats running for state, local or federal office this year, embrace and mobilize this very strong and powerful voting block. Create and promote policies that address these concerns and you’ll find a new source of fundraising as well as voters.
One of my worst nightmares during the 2020 election campaign was that with his approval ratings tanking, being impeached and in a close race for re-election, the Donald would all of a sudden come out in favor of federal legalization as his “October surprise” and be elected as a result. Thank God that didn’t happen, but, now, with the predictions of a massacre for Democrats in November, I think the Democratic candidates have nothing to lose and everything to win so they can maintain control of the House and Senate rather than face a GOP majority that will spend its time seeking revenge rather than making policies and laws that help people’s lives. And, certainly not help the Cannabis cause.
Let’s hope they listen.
Stu Zakim is a Strategic Communications professional with senior level experience in the entertainment, media and cannabis sectors
firstname.lastname@example.org @stuzakim 732-754-9051