The movement to legalize marijuana has long been dominated by left-wing organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform. And despite a handful of Congressional Republicans supporting the issue, most of the supporters of legalization in Congress are Democrats.
“We can’t cut with a single blade of scissors. We need Republicans to pass [a legalization bill]Said Angelos, founder of the Weldon project. Angelos served 13 years of a 55-year sentence for trafficking marijuana and received a full pardon from former President Donald Trump last December.
The background: The idea for the Cannabis Freedom Alliance arose out of a Zoom call between Angelos, Snoop Dogg and Koch last summer. Koch has expressed support for legalizing all drugs, much to Angelos’ surprise.
“I had known his stance on drugs was very libertarian,” Angelos said. “I just didn’t know he supported legalizing all drugs.
Angelos connected with the Koch Network for his help in promoting legalization at the federal level, which he says is more important than ever with Democrats controlling Congress. Before overthrowing the Senate, then in the majority Chief Mitch McConnell has been an obstacle to any legislation on marijuana. But now with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer making the issue a priority, a marijuana bill could very well be passed.
“We need 10 to 12 Republican senators,” Angelos said. “With Koch’s influence, I think that’s probably a possibility.”
Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers in 2004, is one of the most influential organizations in conservative politics. The group rivals and even eclipses the official GOP in terms of size, reach and expense.
“Americans for Prosperity is excited to work alongside our partners to shine the light on cannabis companies, replacing black and gray markets with a free and fair legal framework,” said Brent W. statement. “The cannabis trade will become a way for Americans to pick themselves up, rather than a barrier holding them back.”
The context: Schumer recently told POLITICO that he plans to push through a legalization bill with or without President Joe Biden’s blessing.
The House made history last December when it voted on the MORE law, which would do away with federal marijuana. But only five of the more than 200 House Republicans broke with their party to vote for the bill. Six Democrats voted against the bill.
Depending on how many moderate Democrats can defect on the issue, Schumer will need at least ten Republican senators to vote “Yes” to get the 60 votes needed to pass a bill.
The Cannabis Freedom Alliance plans to target libertarian-leaning Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) And Mike Lee (Utah) first, although Angelos believes the legalization vote issues approved by voters in conservative states like Montana and South Dakota could bring others on board.
What they want: The coalition will advocate removing penalties for marijuana-related offenses and ensuring that people in the illicit market can move to a regulated market. The group also wants regulatory frameworks that promote free markets and low tax rates.
“A lot of big cannabis companies are fighting things like interstate commerce because it doesn’t support their business model,” Angelos said. “This is another reason why [AFP] is a perfect ally in this regard because they support free and open markets. “
Many state programs for medical or adult marijuana have license caps that work against a freer approach to the market.
“The legalization of cannabis is very consistent with Republican, libertarian and conservative values,” said Randal Meyer, executive director of the Global Alliance for the Cannabis Trade and former assistant to Paul. “Most Republicans understand aspects of the free market.
The Kochs also supported the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill of 2018 that included sentencing reform for drug-related offenders.