As marijuana legalization gains more momentum across the United States, it's also becoming more popular within the halls of Congress. And the reason is social justice.
Politico ran an article about how many members of Congress are joining the marijuana legalization bandwagon using social justice arguments. The article discusses a recent bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would legalize hemp farming. The bill would seem pretty non-controversial, but McConnell included an amendment that would ban anyone with a criminal conviction from taking part in the hemp industry, which has upset many members of Congress who would normally support this bill.
“I think there’s a growing recognition of the hypocrisy and unfairness of our nation’s drug laws, when hundreds of thousands of Americans are behind bars for something that is now legal in nine states and something that two of the last three Presidents have admitted to doing,” said Senator Cory Booker. “If we truly want to be a just and fair nation, marijuana legalization must be accompanied by record expungement and a focus on restorative justice.”
And it's not just Democrats either. Many Republicans are also going on record saying they oppose McConnell's amendment and they believe steps need to be taken to address people with old drug convictions. But they aren't necessarily as motivated as Democrats. One Kentucky Republican congressman said while he opposed the amendment banning people with drug convictions from the hemp industry, he also said he would vote in favor of the bill even if the amendment was included.
And it's also a winning issue for voters as well. A recent report found 62 percent of voters in battleground districts during this year's election approved of repairing the "financial and moral damage of the failed War on Drugs." Although only 40 percent found the argument that the War on Drugs "unfairly targets and destroys minority communities" to be very convincing.
But it's safe to say that putting a social justice twist on the marijuana legalization argument seems to be the best strategy moving forward.