The weight of the cannabis vote is being felt on the presidential candidates, and the dust is only starting to get kicked up. Last month the White House’s special spiritual advisor weirdly ripped into presidential hopeful Joe Biden for his anti-cannabis history.
In an extremely surreal moment (even for 2020), Paula White-Cain, special advisor to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative at the White House Office of Public Liaison, criticized Biden for pushing more stringent drug laws during his tenure as Vice President in the Obama administration.
Making these points isn’t weird—I’ve been talking about this matter for the last month—what’s weird is the fact that she made them in front of a collection of right-wing Christian evangelicals. And they ate it up.
At an Evangelicals For Trump event in Alpharetta, Ga. last month, White-Cain claimed the press has been mischaracterizing the president as “law and order.” She said the president is concerned about recidivism rates and wants to see prison reform. She pointed out that he signed the First Step and Second Step Acts that reformed federal sentencing laws and made it easier for those who were formerly incarcerated to find employment. She also pointed out that Biden’s history regarding the subject is terrible by comparison.
“Everyone forgets Clinton’s bill that Joe Biden went along with and signed people to prison for 30 years for 3 ounces of marijuana,” she said. “Everybody wants to forget that this guy that wants to come in as president is just a Trojan horse for a very radical left agenda that is behind him.”
This is incredibly strange considering the anti-pot stance that the radical Christian Right used to espouse. Many of you reading this might not have been around during the ’80s, but the very idea of a right-wing, politically-backed pastor openly criticizing anti-drug laws would have caused riots back then.
In Reagan’s America every church on every corner preached about the evils of recreational drugs—particularly the “gateway drug” marijuana. To see that same crew applauding the exact opposite sentiment is jarring to say the very least. This culture war between the Right and Left is making for some very strange bedfellows.
But don’t get too excited. It doesn’t mean that “Trump is definitely going to legalize if he gets re-elected,” as one of my Republican friends recently said to me. I’d say the exact opposite, actually. Trump only has to run this script long enough to make a few Democrats jump ship before the election and short circuit Biden’s chances of a victory. After that he can go back to ignoring the whole issue again.
But I bet it does mean that the popular Right is scooting toward the middle, and that the far-right is quickly eroding. It also means that we’ll probably see more stoned preachers—which sounds like a good idea to me.
In the meantime, maybe we’ll see Biden budge a little on legalization when he realizes that Republicans are taking a more left-leaning stance on the matter than he is. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is clearly getting the message. She recently defended the inclusion of cannabis banking protections in the proposed Democrat version of the coronavirus relief bill.
“I don’t agree with you that cannabis is not related to this. This is a therapy that has proven successful,” she said to a reporter. That’s quite a bold statement, there.
Ultra Health recently commissioned an analysis of the COVID-19 medical cannabis boom in New Mexico.
According to KRQE the report found that medical cannabis patients are often part of at-risk populations and want more medicine during the pandemic. The analysis found increased loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear and concern about the future were also contributing factors to the increase in cannabis use.
Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriguez once again used the opportunity to call for an increase to the number of plants that producers are allowed to grow. “We’re up 250 percent, almost 3 times what we were the same time last year,” he told reporters. “This is not just going to be a short term problem, this is going to stay with us. So the goal has to be two things: that the state increase the number of plants … and number two: We gotta allow patients to buy what they need.”
A recently passed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act could allow those in the military to use hemp products, including CBD.
According to JD Supra, the measure, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 336 to 71. The amendment says that the “Secretary of Defense may not prohibit, on the basis of a product containing hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp, the possession, use, or consumption of such product by a member of the Armed Forces if: 1.) the hemp meets the definition in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; and 2.) such possession, use, or consumption is in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law.”
Although the amendment passed in the House, it still has to go through the Senate before it makes it into the final NDAA.