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These Red-State Democrats Think Legal Marijuana Can Help Them Win

Published on February 8, 2018

By FLONAD News

These Red-State Democrats Think Legal Marijuana Can Help Them Win

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—“We don’t need to give him another ounce of our brain-space,” Dan Canon told the crowd of 40 people, hitting the TV mute as President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech began.

“We don’t care what he says.” The speech had been the advertised reason for the gathering at the Crazy Horse bar in downtown Bloomington, but in truth the mix of college students and older locals couldn’t even be bothered to hate watch Trump.

They had come to hear Canon, a civil rights attorney running for Congress in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, talk about his campaign to unseat one-term incumbent Trey Hollingsworth.

Students seem drawn to Canon in part because he was one of the plaintiff attorneys in the lawsuit that became Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage.

They like his stances on raising the federal minimum wage and providing Medicare for all. But it’s his full-throated support for legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level that has distinguished him in the eyes of many young voters, who consider it a threshold for taking any politician seriously.

“I think anytime you have an issue with such a high degree of bipartisan support in 2018, you have to pay attention to it,” Canon told POLITICO Magazine, regarding marijuana.

“And it’s appealing because it touches on so many other things: creates a new industry with jobs, good for agriculture, alleviates pressures placed on the criminal justice system, reduces overdose deaths, is a natural pain reliever, can raise massive tax revenue, et cetera.”

Not so long ago—like maybe last cycle—a Democratic challenger in a state this conservative wouldn’t have been caught dead making an unqualified endorsement of a drug federal authorities still consider as dangerous as heroin by categorizing it as Schedule 1.

But attitudes about marijuana, not to mention state laws, have changed so quickly and so broadly across the country that Democrats even in deeply red states like Indiana not only don’t fear talking about the issue, they think it might be a key in 2018 to toppling Republican incumbents.

The numbers, they say, are on their side, not the side of the politicians who either duck the subject or endorse Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ apparent desire to return federal marijuana policy to the “Just Say No” days of the Reagan administration.

READ MORE FROM POLITICO MAGAZINE

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