Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for states to legalize marijuana. Instead of the previous lenient-federal-enforcement policy, Sessions’ new stance will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it. California, Colorado, Nevada, Washington and several other states have legalized it or are in the process of legalizing marijuana. Delaware is one of them.
State Representative Helene Keeley and Senator Margaret Rose Henry’s HB110 will legalize marijuana in Delaware. It was released out of committee last year and awaits both a vote in the House and a task force report over concerns about legalization and marijuana use, which is due in February.
But no matter the report, Delaware Democrats and Democrats nationwide, must not refuse the gift that Sessions and the evil Trump have given them. Legalizing marijuana gets more popular with each passing year. A Gallup poll in October found that 64 percent of American adults—and 51 percent of Republicans—support legalization. A national Quinnipiac poll in April found that 60 percent of voters favored legalization. A May poll focusing just on likely voters in Michigan—a state Trump won—found 58 percent support for legalization. And in Delaware, according to a University of Delaware poll, 61 percent of Delawareans support legalization.
Meanwhile, as several states now have several years worth of experience with legalization, certain warnings about problems with it are being disproven. For example, in Colorado, the rate of teen marijuana usage has plummeted since the drug became legal in 2014—along with teen usage of alcohol, tobacco, and heroin. Further, legalization can prove to be a pancea on a host of issue fronts. First, it can be argued that could be a step drug treatment in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Second, it can be argued that this will advance criminal justice reform, as drug laws on pot have disproportionately affected African American and Latino communities. Finally, it is a revenue enhancer.
Politically, it is just good sense. Aside from the poll numbers above, this issue gives Democrats something to energize young voters and the base, and may even attract some libertarian votes, for whom this is a big issue.
So before the snow thaws this spring, General Assembly Democrats, pass HB110 and fight against Sessions and Trump.