Chuck Schumer’s Senate balancing act could impact marijuana reform
Long before Chuck Schumer was the Senate majority leader, he believed he would eventually be the guy to lift the marijuana ban nationwide. Now that he has the job, the task of reforming the federal cannabis law is getting harder by the day.
Not only does Schumer have to struggle to try to pass controversial cannabis laws at some point in a Congress where Democrats have a slim majority, but he also has to watch how he deals with other sensitive issues, or it could sabotage the necessary votes that he needs to move his pot count to the next level.
In other words, Senator Schumer is in a difficult position.
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At the moment Schumer is doing his best to walk the white line in the middle of the street. He works on bipartisan efforts while promising progressive change. It all seems to be an attempt to keep the peace and narrow the wide divide that has existed in Congress for years. Yet Schumer can only prolong this political olive branch while the parties attempt to grapple with issues on which they historically disagreed. There is little doubt that this philanthropic tactic will eventually catch up with Schumer and implode his plans.
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Schumer must make progress on critical issues in order to gain respect and the necessary authority to legalize marijuana. Point blank. He really needs talks about Biden’s infrastructure deal to go smoothly, but that doesn’t seem likely. Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell came out just this week and said absolutely no Republican Senators would get behind the $ 4 trillion deal.
Unfortunately, time is of the essence. Schumer cannot negotiate with Republicans for too long on this issue as it could upset the Liberal Democrats and turn them against him. Let’s be clear, the Senate majority leader Schumer cannot afford to lose support from his own party if he is to legalize weeds. There are already enough doubts within the party to ensure that Schumer’s promised “comprehensive” marijuana legalization plan, which will include evictions for cannabis convictions and guidelines in support of small businesses, will be dead upon arrival.
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A handful of Democrats have come out in the past two weeks, despising cannabis reform to some extent. They believe that legalizing the leaf like alcohol and tobacco would be more of a detriment to the country than a benefit. So if Schumer’s top bill (which has not yet been introduced) was voted on in the Senate today, it just wouldn’t go.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Staff / Getty Images
So far, Schumer has been good at keeping troubled Democrats at bay. But he understands the need to devise guidelines that can survive the Senate filibuster – a rule that requires a super-majority of 60 votes. He still seems to be figuring out how to do that with marijuana reform. Schumer wants to touch on certain issues – he plans to pass another budget vote bill that can be passed without Republican input – but he understands that this, too, requires a measure of fairness. Anything he does from now until the introduction of his long-awaited marijuana legislation could dictate whether it will get the support it needs to get Congress passed.
RELATED: Marijuana is bipartisan, but that doesn’t mean federal legalization is a safe bet
Perhaps that is why cannabis advocates have only heard Schumer complaints about this legislation and have not yet seen any concrete measures. Schumer knows deep down that an attempt to end the federal marijuana ban would fail miserably at this point. McConnell has already proven that he has the power to stop all GOP senators from buying in.
Additionally, conservative lawmakers tend to get out of shape when progressives advance issues like drug reform in the face of a nation still grappling with economic troubles like the one the country has seen with COVID. However, Schumer is not a dummy. He understands that timing is critical, so he’ll likely wait a while for his pot bill.
On the other hand, it is conceivable (if unlikely) that the ongoing negotiations between Democrats and Republicans include a side note for the top reform. Hey, we’ll move if you move.
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