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Bipartisan Majorities Want Congress To Pass Bill Protecting States’ Rights To Legalize Marijuana, Poll Of Voters In Three States Finds



A strong majority of voters—including more than 60 percent of Republicans—support congressional legislation to protect states’ rights to set their own marijuana laws, according to a new poll of three states.

The survey, commissioned by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR), focused on Missouri, Ohio and Wyoming. It asked voters 21 and older about their views on the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

The bill, which is being led by Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) in the House, enjoys 72 percent support in Wyoming, 67 percent in Missouri and 61 percent in Ohio. Democrats were generally the most supportive, but the poll also found a majority of Republicans back it in each state: Missouri (62 percent), Ohio (60 percent) and Wyoming (65 percent).

“It is no surprise that this recent poll proves even further that the federal government should respect the will of the states when it comes to cannabis reform,” Joyce told Marijuana Moment on Tuesday.

“With almost all 50 states adopting some form of cannabis reform, it is time to pass legislation like my bill, the STATES Act, to ensure each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to cannabis within its borders,” the congressman said.


The survey, first reported by The Washington Examiner, also found that lawmakers who support the STATES Act could see a favorability bump among voters, with 53 percent of Wyoming voters, 38 percent of Ohio voters and 36 percent of Missouri voters saying they’d be more likely to support a congressional candidate who backs the reform.

That also includes 31 percent of Missouri Republicans, 31 percent of Ohio Republicans and 51 percent of Wyoming Republicans.

“The polling speaks for itself,” CPEAR Executive Director Andrew Freedman said in a press release on Tuesday. “In three key GOP constituencies, voters prioritize states’ rights and the ability to enact policies that align with their interest.”

“Through the STATES Act, voters find commonsense and practical policies allowing states to choose their cannabis policies while not committing a federal crime,” he said. “Congress needs to heed the will of the people and pass this bipartisan legislation now.”

The survey also asked respondents about the reasons why they back the cannabis legislation.

“In an open-ended question, 35 percent of Missouri voters, 35 percent of Ohio voters, and 39 percent of Wyoming voters who support the STATES Act say they do so because it protects states’ rights to decide locally–more than any other reason,” CPEAR, whose membership includes large tobacco and alcohol companies, said. “Other reasons mentioned for support include general support for cannabis legalization, being good for the economy, and allowing individual freedom of choice.”

“Our surveys show that in these states, voters believe that when it comes to cannabis, giving states more control is key. Voters across party and other key demographic groups support allowing states—not the federal government—to decide cannabis policy in their own state. In fact, a candidate’s support for the STATES Act, which allows states to make their own decisions about cannabis policy, attracts voter support in Missouri, Ohio, and Wyoming”

CPEAR added that “the STATES Act can be an ideal landing place for Republican lawmakers, as it reaffirms the fundamental conservative principle of states’ rights while supporting important federal guardrails like preventing underage use and addressing concerns from law enforcement.”


Supporting marijuana reform isn’t just a potential boon for GOP legislators, however. There’s growing recognition that the issue holds weight for lawmakers across the spectrum, and even the Biden administration seems increasingly aware of that fact.

To that point, an unnamed Biden campaign aide told The Los Angeles Times recently that marijuana reform is one of several issues they hope to leverage to attract younger voters who will be critical to the president’s reelection bid this November. However, the aide said it’s not being prioritized as highly as other issues such as college affordability, reproductive rights and climate change.

Other recent examples of the administration’s recognition of cannabis policy as an important issue include President Joe Biden’s promotion of his marijuana pardons and scheduling review directive during his State of the Union address this month and Vice President Kamala Harris hosting pardon recipients for a roundtable event at the White House, where she said behind closed doors that “we need to legalize marijuana.”

Meanwhile, going back to the focus of the new CPEAR poll, under the bipartisan House bill as revised for the current session, the STATES 2.0 Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to undo federal criminalization of people acting in compliance with state cannabis programs, as well as those operated by Indian tribes.

It would also authorize interstate marijuana commerce and calls for a currently unspecified federal tax on cannabis sales to support regulations and enforcement.

There hasn’t much significant talk about advancing the STATES Act since its reintroduction last December. Instead, the focus has been on a more limited bipartisan bill to protect banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Marijuana Moment earlier this month that the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

A poll released by the American Bankers Association (ABA) last week shows that roughly three out of five Americans support allowing marijuana industry access to the banking system.

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Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

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