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GOP Lawmakers Slam Marijuana Legalization Vote Planned In Congress This Week



Numerous Republican members of Congress are blasting House Democrats over a planned vote on a bill to federally legalize marijuana this week, dismissing the significance of the issue and arguing that it’s an inappropriate time to take it up.

Specifically, most critics of the vote are saying that the House shouldn’t take action on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act until additional coronavirus relief is passed.

The seemingly coordinated messaging from GOP members is familiar, as minority party members issued the same criticism when House leadership announced their intention to vote on the MORE Act in December.

There was an earlier push to take action on the bill in September, but that plan was postponed following pushback from certain centrist Democrats who worried about the optics of advancing cannabis reform before passing another COVID-19 relief bill. It should also be noted that several of those same lawmakers ended up losing their seats on the same Election Day as voters in conservative states approved marijuana legalization ballot measures, calling into question their strategic thinking on the politics of cannabis.

In any case, House Democrats did pass coronavirus legislation—on two occasions—that included provisions to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. Republicans also sharply criticized that, asserting that it was not germane.

Advocates expressed frustration over the decision to delay the initially planned vote on the MORE Act, but leadership promised that it would be brought up before the year’s end. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced last month that the chamber would consider the bill in December, and it was included in the schedule for this week.

The House Rules Committee took up the MORE Act on Wednesday to prepare it for floor action. Debate will start on the bill on Thursday, with a vote expected on Friday.

But despite this movement—and the fact that a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization—several dozen Republican lawmakers and incoming members have attempted to shame Democrats for pursuing the reform at this time.

Here’s a roundup of what GOP lawmakers are saying about the planned cannabis vote:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

“They’re picking weed over the workers. They’re picking marijuana over the much-needed money we need to go forward, the small businesses that are closing.”

Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA)

House Republican Conference

“Not only is it wrong for Democrats to bring this to the floor instead of focusing on the health and economic crisis facing the nation, but it’s bad policy since it would, according to Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, ‘open the floodgates to marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale in America—allowing bad actors and transnational criminal organizations to further exploit the nation’s addiction crisis.'”

House Judiciary Committee Minority

House Ways and Means Committee Minority

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

“The House of Representatives is spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana. You know, serious, important legislation benefiting the national crisis.”

Senate Republican Conference

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chair Sen. John Barrasso R-WY)

“I don’t know exactly what’s in that bill, but that is the priority of the House right now. I don’t know if it has to do with decriminalization, legalization of marijuana, making it easier for our kids to get marijuana in our neighborhoods. Whatever it is, that is today’s priority of the incredibly shrinking Nancy Pelosi-run House of Representatives.”

Republican National Committee

“Inhale this, now in December, Democrats are voting on pot instead of pandemic aid. Bottom Line: It strains credulity that Democrats are willing to go into the holidays with a straight face telling their constituents that they prioritized weed over pandemic relief.”

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

“It seems the House is focused on other priorities. We just heard that they are focused on something pertaining to marijuana and giving more consideration to marijuana policy. That can be debated, but the far left needs to sort of cool their jets right now.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Rep. Mark Green (R-TN)

Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ)

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)

“While I welcome the debate on federal criminal statutes governing marijuana use, possession, and distribution, I believe it is the wrong time for the House to utilize such precious time discussing a bill with no path forward rather than delivering results for the American people who continue to struggle during this pandemic.”

Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN)

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

Rep. David McKinley (R-VA)

“For months, Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly put her partisan agenda ahead of immediate targeted relief that would help so many Americans. All or nothing is not an acceptable approach. Too many Americans are counting on us for help. Rather than wasting the House’s time on marijuana and exotic animals, we should be focused on finding common ground for a solution.”

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

Rep. John Joyce (R-PA)

Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA)

Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA)

Rep. French Hill (R-AR)

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS)

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL)

“We haven’t voted on a defense bill. We haven’t voted on coronavirus relief, another round of stimulus, paycheck protection, opening schools (or) helping with additional PPE. None of that can get voted on but this stuff can.”

Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN)

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)

Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN)

Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA)

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA)

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)

Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN)

Rep. David Rouzer (R-N)

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)

Rep. Billy Long (R-MO)

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN)

Rep.-elect Barry Moore (R-AL)

Rep.-elect Diana Harshbarger (R-TN)

Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

Rep.-elect August Pfluger (R-TX)

For the record, the spattering of references to the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” are about a separate piece of legislation the House is set to vote on that would restrict private ownership of tigers and other big cats.

Conservative Groups Call For Marijuana Legalization Ahead Of House Vote

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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