On Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018, many frustrated constituents queueing up to vote may be less interested in deciding the fate of a specific candidate than legalizing recreational marijuana.
A growing problem for elected officials on the wrong side of the prohibition issue, a Pew Research Center survey published in January discovered that 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization.
While this is great news for the American public and progressive policy, it represents a dark and ominous reality for the political allies of Jeff Sessions and his Nixon-esque loathing of legal weed.
Per the Pew poll, an overwhelming majority of Millennials (70%), Gen Xers ( 66%), and Baby Boomers (56%), support legalizing adult-use marijuana. No longer politically impotent adolescents unable to vote, as millennials grab the reins of power and become a significant voting bloc – their craving for legalization will become a precarious political problem for any would-be elected officials seeking to maintain their political office – that rejects reform. During the 2016 General Election, Millennials and Gen Xers cast 69.9 million votes combined. Alone, Millennials – individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 – cast approximately 34,000,000 votes. And its statistics like this that are causing some real consternation for the likes of Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. A longtime opponent of adult-use legalization, Gov. Rauner will likely face and be trounced by a pro-legalization candidate in November.
A topic du jour for those seeking elected office in several states, more than a few Poli-Sci sages anticipate the pot question will be a sticky problem for any incumbent not embracing legalization in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and North Dakota during the 2018 midterm elections.
Politically potent for voter turnout, the topic of legalization has serious “cannabis coattails,” according to polling data scrutinized in October 2016 by the Brookings Institute. A nonprofit public policy organization based in the nation’s capital, the think tank concluded: “those coattails have meaningful effects up and down the ballot.”
A primary demonstration of this important fact is evident in the results from New Jersey’s recent election. During the 2017 gubernatorial race, Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on the platform of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State. By promising to legalize adult use once in office, the Murphy campaign whipped the Republican candidate and won in a landslide.
In supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana, progressive candidates can argue their position will unleash critical job creation, increase tax revenue for the state coffers, drive down crime, mitigate addiction rates, and relieve our nation’s overcrowded prison system of its most undeserving inmates – the marijuana prisoner.
The bottom line going forward is simple: marijuana legalization and your vote count in 2018 and beyond!
Cover image courtesy of Allie Beckett