Democrats still refuse to prioritize cannabis. Why?

Prioritizing legal weed won’t save the Democrats, but it’s a start.


Collegian | Trin Bonner

(Graphic Illustration by Trin Bonner | The Collegian)

Hayden Hawley, Cannabis Director

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion article from The Collegian. All opinion content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

If you’re reading this college newspaper, you probably don’t approve of President Joe Biden’s performance so far. If you’ve taken a statistics class, you’ll understand why I jump to this conclusion.


According to Gallup, Biden’s approval rating among Generation Z — those born in the late 1990s to early 2000s — has fallen below 40%. With midterm elections approaching, the Democratic legislature doesn’t seem interested in any of the issues that riled up their base when Donald Trump was president. Pandemic assistance? Time to pay rent. Health messaging? COVID-19 is over, bro — don’t look at those case numbers. Kids in cages? Just don’t think about it.

The thing about Americans is they’re bad at holding grudges. A lot of people would forget about all of that with a little bit of legal cannabis. And by “a lot of people,” I mean 68% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans support cannabis legalization, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll.

“Legalize it” has become staler than the delta-8 flower someone gave me last month because it’s so obvious. Over 145 million Americans live in states where cannabis has been legalized in some form, and they’ve seen firsthand it’s relatively successful.

It’s this de facto consensus that begs the question: Why are Biden and the Democratic Party at large not scoring easy political points by making themselves the cannabis party?

At this point, we already have a plan: Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act already passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. Not only that but a similar bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in 2021.

Even though over half of Republicans approve of legalizing cannabis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed at cannabis banking legislation in February, saying, “China has been steadily building up its military and economic might, and the Democrats’ answer is to help Americans get high?”

The problem with the Democrats’ strategy is it’s all stick, no carrot. You don’t want Trump back, do you? You have to vote for Democrats, or late-night shows are going back to being completely obnoxious. Guess what? They’re still obnoxious.

Promise us something. Biden is toying with the idea of canceling student loan debt but hasn’t outright said he’s going to do it. Biden has nodded toward broad support for labor unions but has yet to clarify what exactly he means. Now would probably be a good time to ally with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Cory Booker and force the old “marijuana is a gateway drug” debate into the spotlight of U.S. politics.

Don’t you want to see that? Don’t you want to see Tucker Carlson make eye contact with his camera and earnestly try to argue that cannabis legalization will lead to the downfall of the United States?

It’s not going to work this time. Here in Colorado, legal cannabis sales have generated over $2 billion in cannabis tax revenue in under a decade, which is probably why Gov. Jared Polis is increasingly holding up legal cannabis as a vital part of the state’s identity. It’s broadly popular.

With all this in mind, why isn’t the Democrats’ strategy for the midterm elections, “Vote for us, and we can all blaze down after this”? Might help — probably can’t hurt.

Reach Hayden Hawley at or on Twitter @hateonhawley.