Once upon a time it was common practice for Republicans to be ultra conservative on the drug front (aka totally against legalization of marijuana), while Democrats were more liberal, laid back and pro-pot. But times have changed, laws have changed, public perception has changed, and so have the opinions of politicians when it comes to marijuana. After all, cannabis is a bi-partisan issue that affects all of us, and there are even a few Republicans who support marijuana legalization.
We’re not just speculating about this fact, there are polls to prove it.
A recent poll found that “51% of Republicans support federal marijuana legalization,” according to CNN. The poll, released in October of this year, noted that Republican support for marijuana legalization is not only up 9 points from last year, but it is also representing the majority of Republicans for the first time, ever.
This increase in support and acceptance of legalizing marijuana reflects the larger-scale support among Americans, with 64% of people in the U.S. in favor of legalizing cannabis, a number that has increased significantly in recent years.
So who are these cool conservatives?
Here are 10 Republicans Who Support Legalization
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1. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky
As per Politico, Senator Paul has “called for a repeal on the pot prohibition” and supports states’ rights to decide their stance on the issue of marijuana. In addition, he co-sponsored the “Small Business Tax Equality Act of 2017,” a bill that would allow cannabis-based businesses to take normal business tax deductions and be exempt from U.S. tax code 280E, which prohibits companies that sell a federally illegal substance (like cannabis) from taking normal business deductions. His support and this tax equality act help marijuana business succeed by encouraging reinvestment and growth.
2. Ann Lee, Lifelong Republican and Founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition
Lee, an activist and leader in the Republican Party started RAMP, a non-profit organization with the mission of reforming marijuana laws by working within the GOP to educate and connect with lawmakers, party leadership, and grassroots activists.
3. Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California
Rohrabacher is a conservative who has been a voice for reform of marijuana laws and in favor of protecting the rights of medical cannabis patients. He has contributed leadership to the recently formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and he co-sponsored the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a bill that “prohibits the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute those in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws.”
4. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah
Senator Hatch is one of the latest conservative Republicans in the legislative branch to support marijuana reform. He recently announced the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act (MEDS ACT), a bill that will expand research by the federal government into medical marijuana in hopes of finding an end to the opioid crisis. This is a really big deal because Hatch represents Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country, and even they are willing to embrace cannabis reform.
5. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado
Gardner, a moderate Republican from Colorado, also supports MEDS ACT. In addition, as Forbes reports, he recently announced that he wants to “attach an amendment to a wide-ranging Republican-led tax reform bill that would allow state-legal marijuana growers, processors and sellers to deduct normal businesses expenses from their taxes, just like operators in other industries can.”
“Anything that can be safely dispensed, subject to FDA legislation, that can help people who have a medical need, I’m open to it.”
6. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina
Senator Tillis also wants to see more research conducted to investigate the positive effects of medical marijuana, and supports Hatch and his MEDS ACT. In an interview with The (Raleigh) News & Observer, Tillis said, “Anything that can be safely dispensed, subject to FDA legislation, that can help people who have a medical need, I’m open to it.” The act would allow more scientific research to be done on the potential medical uses of marijuana.
7. Congressman Don Young of Alaska
Young along with other bipartisan members of congress launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which is meant to serve as a “forum for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss, learn, and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy.”
8. Congressman Tom Garrett of Virginia
Republican congressman Garrett introduced a proposed legislation called the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017,” which aims to remove marijuana in any form from all schedules of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Currently marijuana is still considered a Schedule I illegal substance under federal law. The bill hopes to put marijuana in the same category as alcohol and tobacco and remove it from the federal controlled substances list. This would enable more research and clinical trials to be done to investigate the potential medical uses of marijuana and would provide an economic and agricultural boost in Virginia and across the country.
9. Congressman Morgan Griffith of Virginia
Griffith introduced the “Compassionate Access Act of 2017” and “Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana Act of 2017,” both of which aim to end federal prohibition of medical cannabis in those states that have legalized marijuana, and to allow states to devise how they plan to regulate medical cannabis use. Ultimately these acts would encourage research into medical cannabis and enable legal investments into the medical marijuana industry.
10. Congressman James Comer of Kentucky
The “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017” was proposed in an effort to exclude industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. The argument is that industrial hemp is different from marijuana and is used agriculturally to create a wide range of legitimate products. Comer sponsored this act in an effort to legalize the cultivation of hemp in the United States, which he argues would “finally allow for responsible, commercial production of industrial hemp without fear of violating federal law.”
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