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Report: How Your Congressmember Ranks on Cannabis Policy

How Your Congressional Rep. Ranks on Pot Policy
PHOTO Kevin Burkett

Politics

Report: How Your Congressmember Ranks on Cannabis Policy

No matter if a cannabis legalization bill is explicitly on a midterm ballot, almost every candidate nowadays has a stance on cannabis.

For those trying to be the absolute best cannabis voter they can be, the National Cannabis Industry Association’s congressional scorecard is must-read material before heading to the polls for the 2018 midterm elections.

Every two years, in both the midterms and the presidential elections, every single seat in the House of Representatives is up for grabs. Even if pot laws are not on the on the ballot in your neck of the woods, sending people to Congress who are trying to push the issue has been critical for cannabis activism in the last decade. Back in the day, Barney FrankDana RohrabacherRon Paul and a handful of other lawmakers were forward thinking on the issue, but now the national dialogue around pot is on the mind of voters everywhere and plenty of candidates have taken a stand on cannabis.

With the goal of assisting Americans on the way to their civic duty, the NCIA scorecard dropped in early October to provide the voting history of members of the House of Representatives on marijuana-related appropriations amendments that were considered between 2014 and 2016, as well as identifying cosponsors of the legal cannabis industry’s priority legislation in both the House and Senate.

NCIA picked six specific pieces of legislation that were considered in the scoring. The six categories each candidate was considered their voting history on medical marijuana, adult-use cannabis programs, CBD, using federal funds to interfere with state laws related to hemp production, banking and veteran access to cannabis and cannabis health information.

“As more and more states move toward ending cannabis prohibition, it is becoming increasingly important for voters to know if their federal representatives are working to protect and promote their states’ successful medical and adult-use marijuana programs,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We hope they will take a hard look at this scorecard, back the lawmakers who support common-sense cannabis policy reform and hold those who are undermining their constituents accountable.”

There are plenty of hot elections this year. Some candidates, such as Texas’ Democratic Senate challenger Beto O’Rourke, received a perfect scorecard for his cannabis-friendly stances, while others will do their best to hold on to the last bits of prohibition possible. Let’s not kid ourselves, pot arrests were up last year! So, part of the scorecard’s purpose is to help voters identify those folks who might lead to the increasing criminalization of cannabis and to see what their opponent has to offer.

Here are some of the big toss-up races and how those involved are on pot issues.

Maine’s 2nd District: Adult-Use Cannabis?

Maine’s 2nd District is a must-watch, if not just because the number of political ads airing over a recent ten-day period was the most of any congressional race in the country. The district’s incumbent representative, Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, is attempting to fight off a challenge by Democrat Jared Golden. While Poliquin scored a 4 out of 6 from NCIA, one of the strikes against him was his lack of support for adult-use recreational marijuana. Golden, on the other hand, is pro-pot with the record to show it. This past April, he voted in support of LD 1719 to move forward with a regulated cannabis marketplace in Maine.

New Jersey’s 7th District: Decriminalization vs. Prohibition

In New Jersey’s 7th District, incumbent Republican Rep. Leonard Lance is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Tim Malinowski. While Lance did vote in favor of CBD protections and banking access for the industry, the NCIA scorecard determined that he was pretty bad on everything else.

Malinowski made his thoughts clear on Reddit, saying, “On marijuana — I support decriminalization. I want law enforcement in my community focused on violent and property crime, not going after people for recreational use of marijuana. And I believe our drug policies should focus on the epidemic of addiction in our society, including the opiate crisis. One argument for liberalizing our marijuana laws is that in states where that has happened, doctors are prescribing fewer opiates.”

California’s 10th District: Prohibition Near the Cannabis Capitol

While one might presume California’s 10th District is a heady place, given that it’s a district next door to cannabis-friendly cities such as Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco. However, the district’s representative, Republican Jeff Denham, has held the seat for years and is definitely not friendly to cannabis policies. In the past, Denham has voted against things like protecting sick people from the DEA. Challenger Josh Harder has chosen not to take a stance on marijuana reform, so generally, the industry is hoping that he can’t be worse.

TELL US, do you know your local candidates’ stances on cannabis?

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