The last two decades have arguably been the fastest-paced, most progressive years in the history of marijuana use in our country. A short generation ago, carrying even marijuana seeds could have netted you jail time, no matter which state you were in.
Fast forward to today, and several states have legalized recreational marijuana. You can smoke, purchase, and possess marijuana legally in a number of states — and some of the more progressive ones already have home delivery services. Of course, before reaching this point, a few states went out on a limb to legalize medicinal marijuana. Every step of the way, reform has been controversial and difficult, due largely to the outdated, archaic views of many politicians working today.
The fight to legalize marijuana federally is far from over, though it is well underway and shows great promise. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most powerful and influential politicians working today who are holding back progressive reform legislation, and want to take marijuana away from you (even if you have a prescription). First up…
1. Marco Rubio
“Now, if there’s a medicinal use — if you can go to the FDA and prove that it helps with medicine, that’s fine. Then turn it into medicine,”
During his doomed 2016 presidential run, Marco Rubio made a number of disparaging statements about marijuana use. Despite this, his stance on marijuana is arguably the softest, most flexible stance of anyone on our list. Rubio seems to allow for the possibility of responsible or beneficial marijuana use, particularly in the medical setting, though he hedges his bets whenever he speaks about it — often adding a caveat.
“Now, if there’s a medicinal use — if you can go to the FDA and prove that it helps with medicine, that’s fine. Then turn it into medicine,” Rubio said at a campaign rally in 2016.
Admittedly, that’s a slight improvement over his quoted stance from just a few years earlier. In 2014, Rubio said he would be more in favor of medical marijuana if it wasn’t a mind-altering — a strange stance, given that many medications currently in use today are mind-altering. See: those persistant “do not operate machinery” warnings on your medication labels.
2. Mike Pence
This shouldn’t particularly shock anyone, but our very own vice president is a staunch opponent of marijuana use. Like many Republican politicians, Pence believes the age-old Reefer Madness cliches about pot being a gateway drug.
Toke up, the vice president believes, and you’ll soon be under the spell of those no-good, marijuana-peddling jazz musicians… or wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a rib missing. Pence’s voting history reflects this belief. Just a short five years ago, the vice president pushed to have marijuana possession reclassified as a Class-B misdemeanor, which would bring about harsher punishments for individuals found with cannabis on their person.
3. Pete Sessions
This list has some heavy hitters as far as political power is concerned. Perhaps none of them has more clout than Pete Sessions of Texas, whom Politico has not-so-lovingly deemed “Washington’s most powerful anti-pot official.” Sessions makes no distinction between recreational marijuana use and medicinal marijuana use.
For years, Sessions has used his position as the chairman of the House Committee to stifle any pro-pot legislation, often refusing to allow those measures to see the light of day. He has the power to influence almost any piece of legislation he sees fit, and unfortunately for marijuana advocates, he does so. There’s a glimmer of hope, though, and that comes in the form of Sessions’ next political opponent — a Democrat with a more socially acceptable view of marijuana reform. They will go head to head next fall when voters take to the booths.
4. Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell is known for dragging his feet and opposing progressivism, and he has an awful lot of political power to throw up walls with. Allies of marijuana legalization — that’s recreational or medical — should be more than a little worried about Mitch McConnell.
McConnell once said he doesn’t think America should “…go in a direction of legalizing any of these currently illegal drugs,” even adding that, “This whole movement in various parts of the country is a big mistake.” The dangerous thing about Mitch is that he won’t hesitate to stall progressive legislation or keep precious floor time away from those moving in favor of marijuana legalization.
5. Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is one of the most dangerous men in America when it comes to marijuana legalization efforts. Not only is he in a position — hell, the position — to enact stringent anti-pot measures that could roll back legalization efforts in America, but he uses that power, too.
His dislike for marijuana runs far deeper than simply opposing its use. Sessions once famously urged the government to officially adopt the stance that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” As if that weren’t antagonistic and absurd enough, Sessions once (unbelievably) went on record to say that, “The Klux Klan was okay until I found out they smoked pot.”
It’s not just Sessions’ rhetoric that poses a problem. He acts on his beliefs, too. The attorney general has repealed Obama-era legislation that served to protect marijuana dispensaries in states that legalized the plant’s use.
“Good people don’t smoke pot…”
We’d be lucky if these were the only anti-marijuana politicians around today, but the sad truth of the matter is that these individuals represent only the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more politicians who have an anti-marijuana stance. Some are more open-minded than others, and some are coming around to the notion that marijuana does indeed have medicinal benefits. However, we’re also still saddled with representatives who believe marijuana to be a temptation sprung upon us by the devil.
We’ve come a very, very long way in a short twenty or thirty years. But we still have a long way to go — make sure to vote for sensible politicians who have an open mind about marijuana use and want to promote a progressive society.