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: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
Lafayette8542139
Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
Alcorn5662101
Lincoln5431134
George496579
Scott472198
Tippah468381
Prentiss466581
Leflore4654144
Itawamba4628105
Adams4584119
Tate4579109
Copiah447792
Simpson4440116
Yazoo443687
Wayne439172
Covington428694
Sunflower4235105
Marion4225107
Coahoma4154104
Leake408088
Newton381679
Grenada3703108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359492
Attala331089
Jasper329565
Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
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