Mid term elections probably won’t advance legal cannabis.  

If you’re in the cannabis industry and you haven’t stopped and given thought to what’s likely – or possibly – going to happen after the mid term elections are behind us, then now would probably be a great time to sit down and reflect on what’s happening and what may happen next. 

Six short weeks from now, we (that means you!) Americans are going to go and vote in the mid term elections, and we are going to choose the candidates that best represent what we want – or do not want – from our government; this is going to happen at the federal, state and local level.  Cannabis is definitely a flashy topic for the candidates, but what does it actually mean to the industry?

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There are currently so many candidates endorsing the legalization of cannabis – either medical or full rec use – that it’s almost impossible at this stage in the campaigning to find candidates who are not at least claiming they’d be happy to see it legalized.  You can take a look at MarijuanaMoment.net if you want the specifics on platforms or the bill numbers. 

Lip service or a real desire to see changes in the law?

One of our biggest concerns when it comes to cannabis legislation is the fact that once the mid term elections are finished, will many – or even any – of these bandwagon politicians remain onboard with their pro-cannabis campaign promises to see it through to some form of legalization?  Or will they default back to the “no movement isn’t going backwards” stance that seems to infect those without a fire under their behinds to keep them motivated. 

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Yes, the House members will have start looking at reelection issues almost as soon as they are elected – it’s one of the beauties and one of the pitfalls of the US elections system.  Senators get to sit in their seats for six years at a go, so they don’t have to worry about what they’re going to promise constituents nearly as often as their two year term counterparts.  Most gubernatorial elections are for a four year term; goodness knows with the situation the way it is in this country right now, so much could happen in four years it’s impossible to make any kind of predictions. 

How many candidates say they’ll legalize in order to get elected?

This is also a concern we have going into the mid term elections.  How many of these candidates were pushed into making a vague – or perhaps not so vague – statement supporting the cannabis industry in some form or another, but only did it to appear more electable?

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Once the votes are tallied, it becomes much less important for candidates – winner or losers – to have an actionable stance on the “marijuana legalization issue” – since the 12 weeks or so post mid term elections will be completely occupied by both sides counting their wins and losses and trying to figure out what can be done before the new guys take their oaths.  

If the Republicans do well, then it’s highly likely that they will see it as a mandate from the people to continue doing their good works in the same way they have the past two years.  If you can’t see the sarcasm dripping from my keyboard, then shame on you…  actually if the Republicans manage to keep the House and the Senate you can be sure that we’re all in for some serious hell over the next two years, even if cannabis isn’t a primary issue during that time.  

If the Republicans do well in the mid term elections, cannabis may become a non-issue. 

When I say non-issue, I mean that not much changes.  States will keep doing what they are doing, the federal government will likely continue to be the shit show that it is, and most things marijuana will remain out in the wilderness of states rights and other issues – abortion, immigration, trampling non-white peoples’ civil rights – those will keep their place out in front.  

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There are some voter initiatives on the various state level ballots that will either extend state legal cannabis or continue to encourage the various state legislatures to get something passed before the voters take it out of their hands in 2020 (since we know that mid term elections won’t stop the groundswell of grass roots support for legalization).  

In regards to medical cannabis use and CBD, it’s highly likely that no matter who wins, we’ll see positive movement on wider acceptance by the general population, and the topic might come roaring back just in time for the 2020 election. 

What happens if the Democrats gain some control in November?

Personally I think that if the Dems – who are likely to get a majority of one portion of Congress or another, statistically speaking – do well in the mid term elections, we may see the entire issue buried under a mountain of other legislation and priorities, at least in the near term.  

As far as Democrats see it, the states that have legalized are doing ok, the Feds can’t go after compliant, state legal, medical marijuana companies (not much comfort to business owners in rec states there), and there won’t be an immediate, urgent need to get a lot of new laws on the books when there are so many other actual wrongs that need to be rectified. 

If the spending bill clears before the October deadline, then adding new cannabis legalization onto those bills won’t be possible for almost a year, and Dems would have to be able to wrangle some committees into moving legislation out for a full vote – again, probably not something that’s going to be priority number one in January.  

My prediction?  Cannabis legalization via legislation at the federal level takes a back seat, no matter who wins the most votes in any of the mid term elections. 

If we want action, we need to find a way that brings cannabis legislation to the front BEFORE the mid term elections. Click To Tweet

While it would be nice to think that cannabis legalization is actually an important issue that people care about, at the end of the day it’s not likely to be an issue that gets any sort of immediate attention once the votes are counted.  

What we – as an industry – should learn from this, if it indeed comes to pass this way – is that we need to force candidates, especially those running for reelection – to put up or shut up and to get the legislation to the floor for a full vote, even when it’s nearly impossible due to committee chairs and other mundane obstacles that prevent it from happening.