According to a Daily Beast report, President Donald Trump (R) is concerned that cannabis legalization voter initiatives could “supercharge turnout” by voters who support Democrats in the upcoming election.
One GOP strategist told the Daily Beast that Trump is “keenly aware of how presidential elections … can be won at the margins.”
“The pot issue is one of many that he thinks could be a danger… He once told me it would be very ‘smart’ for the Democrat Party to get as many of these on the ballot as they could.” – Republican strategist to the Daily Beast
During the 2016 campaign, Trump indicated he would allow states to determine their own cannabis policies; however, as his Cabinet started to take shape following his election – including anti-cannabis zealot Jeff Sessions as his first attorney general – the administration would take a more hardline stance, such as rescinding Obama-era policies protecting legal medical cannabis programs.
Following the 2018 midterm elections – which gave control of the House of Representatives to Democrats – California Sen. Dana Rohrabacher (R) signaled that the administration was planning federal cannabis reforms. Those reforms never materialized.
In June, Attorney General Bill Barr was accused of weaponizing the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to investigate cannabis mergers due to his negative feelings about the industry.
So far, broad cannabis legalization initiatives have qualified for ballots in Montana, Arizona, and New Jersey, while South Dakota will vote on both medical and adult-use questions. Mississippi has approved a medical cannabis ballot initiative, while Nebraska advocates submitted signatures for its medical cannabis initiative for review last month, but they have not yet been approved.
Arizona will likely serve as a battleground state during this year’s election as Trump only won the state by 3.5 percentage points in 2016; he leads former Vice President Joe Biden by 8.4 percent in current state polling, according to FiveThirtyEight. In New Jersey, Biden is leading Trump 55.2 percent to 34.5 percent, while Trump is besting Biden by 11.7 points in Mississippi according to FiveThirtyEight data. Trump won South Dakota in 2016 by nearly 30 percentage points and 270toWin rates the state as “Safe Trump.”
Nebraska election polling since May shows Biden with a slight lead over Trump but the president won the state handily in 2016.
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