For the second day in a row, a speaker at the Republican National Convention (RNC) expressed critical views about marijuana, this time taking issue with Democratic governors who designated cannabis dispensaries as essential services amid the coronavirus pandemic while imposing restrictions on churches.
Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of Evangelical preacher Billy Graham, delivered a speech focusing on religious freedom during her appearance at the convention. She argued that the health crisis revealed Democratic priorities.
“Even during the pandemic, we saw how quickly life can change. Some Democrat leaders tried to ban church services while marijuana shops and abortion clinics were declared essential,” she said. “But you know what is truly essential? Our right to worship freely and live our faith in every aspect of life.”
Watch Graham Lynch talk about Democrats and marijuana below:
Of course, many states—including those that are Republican-led like Alaska—have allowed medical and recreational cannabis businesses to continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. But attempting to cast marijuana as a Democratic issue seems to be a theme at this year’s RNC.
"Even during the pandemic, we saw how quickly life could change. Some Democrat leaders banned church services while marijuana shops and abortion clinics were declared essential.
But, you know what is truly essential? Our right to worship freely."
— America First (@AmericaFirstPAC) August 26, 2020
An advisory board member for the President Trump’s reelection campaign gave a speech at the convention on Monday where she claimed that Democrats’ push for universal health care is really about ensuring a right to cannabis access.
“Democrats love to talk about health care being a human right, but a right to what?” Natalie Harp said. “Well, I’ll tell you. To them, it’s a right to marijuana, opioids and the right to die with dignity.”
Most American voters support legalizing cannabis, polls show, and that includes majority support among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
This election has seen a confusing mix of drug policy positions among the major party candidate. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, for example, opposes adult-use legalization and has instead put forward proposals to decriminalize cannabis possession, legalize medical marijuana, expunge prior convictions and let states set their own policies.
Biden’s vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said over the weekend that, under a Biden administration, there will be a “policy that is going to be about decriminalizing marijuana”—though she is sponsoring a full cannabis legalization bill in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Trump’s reelection campaign has attacked Biden as an “architect” of the drug war who authored punitive laws during his time in the Senate and framing the incumbent president as the criminal justice reform candidate.
That’s despite the fact that the president’s administration has taken several hostile actions on the marijuana front that stop short of a full-scale crackdown on businesses in legalized states.
The president expressed concern at a rally last week that putting marijuana on the ballot drives Democratic voter turnout and puts Republicans at risk of losing elections. Legalization will be on the ballot in the swing state of Arizona this November, along will recreational and medical measures in several other states.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a chief advocate for marijuana reform, recently told Marijuana Moment that he suspects Biden will be a “constructive player” on the issue if elected; however, he’s also criticized the nominee’s simple decriminalization plan as “meaningless.”
The 2020 Democratic platform endorses the same modest cannabis reforms Biden backs, and party delegates defeated an amendment to add support for legalizing marijuana last month.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.