Never mind that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is the lead sponsor. Never mind that 68% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, a figure that includes 83% of Democrats and half of Republicans. And never mind that there’s a midterm election coming up in which passage would be an undeniable boost to Democrats’ electoral fortunes.
Despite all that, it seems a foregone conclusion in Congress that a long-awaited, just-released bill to stop the feds from treating cannabis as an illegal narcotic and start treating it as a substance to be regulated and taxed has little chance of passage anytime soon. Instead, the best we can purportedly hope for is that discrete pieces of the very good legislation will get over the hump.
Democrats resisting the sweeping reforms, President Biden included, need to get out of their own way, and Republicans need to get on board. The Drug Enforcement Administration now lists pot as a Schedule I drug, having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That’s gobbledygook at a time when 37 states, from the Dakotas to Mississippi and Utah to Pennsylvania, have made it legal for medical purposes, and 19 have made it legal for adults for non-medical use.