MAGIC WALL: Pot Politics

Oklahoma voters approve a measure legalizing medical marijuana. CNN's John King looks at ballot initiatives and laws involving marijuana.

Posted: Jun 28, 2018 11:33 AM
Updated: Jun 28, 2018 11:46 AM

Voters on Tuesday in Oklahoma -- Oklahoma! -- became the latest in the US to approve broad access to marijuana when they approved one of the most permissive medical marijuana initiatives in the country.

The state's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said she'll work to tighten the initiative and then responsibly implement it, although she was concerned about it leading to recreational marijuana use.

That will make 30 states with some kind of legalized marijuana. Nine of those states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized the drug. Vermont becomes the ninth when its legal pot law becomes effective July 1. Voters in Michigan will vote on legal pot this November. In Utah, they'll weigh in on medical marijuana.

The entire West Coast of the United States has legalized the drug. The entire northern US border abuts a country (Canada) that has legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Candidates and Democrats, in particular, are taking note and trying to use the issue to their advantage.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday introduced his own bill to effectively decriminalize marijuana and regulate it at the federal level.

There are other proposals to fully legalize the drug at the federal level, including one by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, an oft-mentioned potential 2020 presidential candidate.

Other potential presidential candidates in the Senate, including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have signed on as co-sponsors to Booker's effort.

A Democratic strategist -- Guy Cecil, who has worked for super PACs -- said in May that Democrats see pot as a motivating issue for young voters:

"I don't think there's any question that in the places we've seen legalization on the ballot, that it has increased interest in the election on the part of young voters in particular, that it has increased turnout in those states -- that's not the reason somebody should be for it! -- but I certainly think it's a winner just in terms of the pure politics of it."

In Virginia in 2017, Ralph Northam used a call for marijuana decriminalization in tandem with arguments about criminal justice reform. Northam's efforts stalled in the state legislature. Other states' efforts have contended with courts and hostile governors. Arkansas is inching toward implementing the medical marijuana initiative they approved in 2016.

Support for legalized marijuana has been growing at a sustained clip for years.

In 2000, 31% of Americans supported legalization, according to Gallup. By 2009, support had grown to 44% in their polling and in October of 2017 it was at 61%. Recent polls by Pew and Quinnipiac have similarly shown support to be over 60%. Polls have routinely shown more than 50% support since 2013.

Support for medical marijuana is nearly ubiquitous. Quinnipiac found 94% support for medical marijuana in their most recent poll.

Gallup drew a parallel between the growth in support for legalized marijuana and for same-sex marriage, both of which grew exponentially over the past two decades. The Supreme Court made marriage a right in 2015. It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Supreme Court gives anyone a right to marijuana.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, is moving in the opposite direction. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has thrown out the Obama-era guidance to not interfere with states experimenting with legalization, which may have had the inverse effect of galvanizing supporters.

It was a Republican, Sen. Cory Gardner of trailblazing Colorado, that held up Justice Department nominees until the administration relented and President Donald Trump said he'd work with Congress to protect marijuana states.

None of that suggests an imminent bipartisan effort to decriminalize the drug or even that the government is any closer to removing marijuana from the DEA's list of Schedule 1 drugs "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

But boy does it feel like things are moving fast.

This piece has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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