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 11:14 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 456490

Reported Deaths: 6174
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin947071506
Ramsey40752750
Dakota33684355
Anoka31437368
Washington20627237
Stearns18137190
St. Louis14032251
Scott1224899
Wright11831107
Olmsted1085175
Sherburne831970
Carver706139
Clay661384
Rice625674
Kandiyohi559172
Blue Earth549633
Crow Wing491178
Otter Tail465468
Chisago461838
Benton424388
Winona395648
Douglas380366
Nobles374847
Mower374729
Goodhue359163
Polk330860
McLeod328947
Beltrami316648
Morrison314845
Lyon306340
Becker290039
Itasca288043
Isanti286543
Carlton285243
Steele279610
Pine270815
Freeborn254923
Todd233730
Nicollet230938
Brown219134
Mille Lacs216145
Le Sueur215016
Cass211024
Meeker201733
Waseca193916
Wabasha17493
Martin172126
Roseau166617
Hubbard151438
Redwood141427
Houston141114
Dodge14014
Renville138740
Chippewa133432
Cottonwood129218
Fillmore12838
Wadena120918
Rock112212
Aitkin111633
Faribault110316
Sibley11017
Watonwan10708
Pennington101316
Kanabec100118
Pipestone97523
Yellow Medicine95017
Murray9137
Jackson87510
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68814
Lake66515
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching61010
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Grant4398
Unassigned43568
Norman4268
Mahnomen4177
Kittson37420
Red Lake3214
Traverse2673
Lake of the Woods1991
Cook1160

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Cases: 313284

Reported Deaths: 4437
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk47198465
Linn18187280
Scott15975172
Black Hawk14184243
Woodbury13161181
Johnson1234453
Dubuque11678159
Pottawattamie9204115
Dallas915472
Story886638
Cerro Gordo476172
Webster475077
Warren463939
Clinton461068
Sioux460757
Marshall433262
Buena Vista397731
Muscatine397379
Des Moines396243
Plymouth354270
Wapello353098
Jasper335159
Lee327132
Marion312253
Jones275650
Henry269931
Carroll258934
Bremer251048
Crawford235524
Boone224717
Washington224333
Benton214550
Mahaska198937
Jackson196532
Tama191659
Dickinson189429
Kossuth182244
Delaware177736
Clay173421
Wright167824
Fayette166824
Buchanan162924
Hamilton162930
Winneshiek161420
Harrison159162
Hardin158731
Cedar156819
Clayton154349
Butler152524
Page148715
Floyd142036
Cherokee140527
Mills139017
Lyon138233
Poweshiek136024
Hancock133024
Allamakee131630
Iowa128522
Madison126210
Calhoun12409
Grundy123428
Winnebago123329
Jefferson122625
Mitchell117337
Louisa116830
Cass115443
Chickasaw114012
Appanoose113340
Sac113215
Union112823
Emmet111332
Shelby108027
Humboldt107819
Guthrie104624
Franklin104018
Unassigned10290
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery90024
Keokuk86526
Howard86419
Monroe82820
Clarke8219
Pocahontas78811
Ida76930
Davis70421
Adair69820
Greene6987
Monona69618
Lucas67110
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6029
Fremont5296
Van Buren50615
Decatur5004
Ringgold46311
Audubon4278
Wayne42021
Adams3023
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