Republican congressman criticizes inaction on legalization


Republican Rep. David Joyce of Ohio is criticizing the Biden administration and Congress for not moving on legalization. Joyce is part of a small group of Republicans who support legalizing cannabis while the majority of the party remains opposed to legalization.

“If a conservative former prosecutor like myself and a progressive can find common ground on this issue, why haven’t President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi worked to enact sensible bipartisan reforms?” Joyce said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been making efforts to get a legalization bill passed, but he hasn’t yet succeeded in doing so. Fellow
Democrats have also expressed frustration over legalization not getting done. One major problem in the Senate is the filibuster would require at
least 10 Republicans and all Democrats to vote in favor.

Morgan Fox, political director at NORML, told Cannabis News Box that Republican voters are certainly starting to come around on legalizing

“Support from Republican members of Congress is also increasing, albeit somewhat more slowly than it is among their constituents and bases,” Fox said. “Vocal support from lawmakers like Rep. Joyce, as well as Rep. Mace – who just introduced a fairly robust descheduling bill – is a good indicator of the direction things are heading and will be instrumental in building even more support from the rest of their party.”

Fox said criticism in this area shouldn’t solely be directed at Democrats, even though they’re in control of Congress and the White House. Republicans in Congress largely don’t support legalization, and Republican leaders in Congress have made that clear.

“Personally, I’m reaching out to House members to urge them to cosponsor the MORE Act, which advocates are pushing to get a floor vote as soon as possible in Q1 before campaigning starts in earnest,” Fox said. “In terms of the Senate, I think everyone is really just waiting for the official introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). There are also a number of incremental measures in play this year, both as standalone legislation as well as the Appropriations legislation for FY22 and FY23.”

It isn’t currently looking likely at all that the filibuster will be abolished so bills like the MORE Act will have a chance at passing, so legalizing cannabis this year would be quite difficult. It may take time for more members of Congress to receive pressure from their constituents to get it done.