How will Lindsey Graham handle legalization efforts?


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is leaving his position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for another position, which means he will be replaced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Grassley has been a difficult opponent of legalization who has refused to even let cannabis-related bills be voted on. Graham is seen as someone who might be a little bit easier for cannabis advocates to work with.

“It is unclear if Senator Graham will be more amenable to reform efforts or if he will continue the status-quo of federal criminalization by refusing to hold a hearing or markup for legislation to end prohibition,” Justin Strekal, political director at NORML, told Cannabis News Box. “For decades, Senator Grassley refused to even question the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization, a passive endorsement of its oppressive and racist nature.”

Strekal said he’s not sure if Graham will be open to legalization efforts, and he’s not sure if the Senate, in general, is likely to pass some kind of legalization bill. That said, he believes Trump would sign a legalization bill that was passed by the House and the Senate.

“Should Senator Graham support efforts to end the prohibition of marijuana, it would likely be viewed favorably by the president,” Strekal said.

Lindsey Graham has not publicly endorsed cannabis legalization in any way, but he has said he’s interested in the medical applications of cannabis. Graham has consistently said he doesn’t personally support “recreational” cannabis, but that doesn’t mean he’s opposed to allowing the Senate to vote on legalization.

“As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham will have to make a choice when it comes to marijuana,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Will he continue to perpetuate the failed policy of federal criminalization which resulted in over 659,000 Americans being handcuffed in 2017 alone, or will he be open to reform in a way that reflects the rapidly evolving nature of cannabis policy in the majority of states?”

Some Republicans who used to be staunchly against legalization are starting to warm up to the idea of legalizing cannabis, especially because they see the amount of tax revenue it can generate. Based on Graham’s personality, it seems quite possible he’d be willing to consider a legalization bill that left legalization up to the states, like the STATES Act that was proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Trump has also signaled he might be willing to sign that bill.