Efforts to federally legalize marijuana could advance in the next Congress, even if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stays in control. That’s according to a surprising take by the body’s top Democratic lawmaker.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said if Democrats control the chamber and he replaces McConnell as majority leader, he will act on legalization legislation. But even if that doesn’t play out, he predicted, there’s still opportunity for reform under GOP rule.
“It’ll move a lot faster,” if he himself is installed as majority leader, Schumer said. “But on the issue of marijuana, I believe even–god forbid—I’m not majority leader, I believe that the pressure on McConnell is going to increase and we could make some progress.”
The minority leader’s comments came in a video chat with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chairman, in which the two lawmakers discussed the importance of pursuing legalization, the evolving politics of cannabis and the need for social equity in the industry.
While the House approved legislation earlier this month to federally legalize marijuana, the Republican-controlled Senate under McConnell has declined to take it—or any other major cannabis legislation—up for consideration. Advocates have emphasized that the fate of reform largely rests on the outcome of two Senate runoffs in Georgia next week, which will decide which party will control the Senate.
“Like so many other things there are two words that stand in the way here: Mitch McConnell,” Schumer said in the new web chat, which his office posted on Wednesday night. “As long as he is majority leader, it’s going to be very hard unless we have a tremendous public pressure on him to get that bill on the floor.”
“If I become majority leader, I put it on the floor, and my guess, Hakeem,