On Monday, Trump held a rally in Oshkosh, Wisconsin as part of his reelection bid, as well as a predictable move to take headlines away from the kickoff of the Democratic National Convention. Consistent with his "ignore the pandemic" strategy, nearly 1,000 of his followers attended the mask-free, non-socially distanced gathering.
As part of his remarks, Trump blamed Wisconsin's former Governor Scott Walker (R), who was in attendance, for increasing Democratic turnout in the 2018 midterms by allowing marijuana legalization measures on the ballot. Walker was defeated by current Governor Tony Evers by just 1% in that election.
The next time you run please don’t put marijuana on the ballot at the same time you’re running. You brought out like a million people that nobody ever knew were coming out.- President Donald Trump
Basically, Trump told Republican lawmakers and his followers to keep marijuana legalization off the ballot box if they want to win.
This statement marks the first time Trump has publicly made a negative comment on marijuana reform.
To fact check, statewide legislation was not on the Wisconsin ballot in 2018. Instead, a number of local advisory questions appeared on the ballots in 16 of the state's 72 counties, all of which voted affirmatively to support recreational or medical cannabis reform. These voter approvals were meant to gauge public sentiment and were non-binding.
It should also be noted that Walker did not place these advisory questions on the ballot as that was the responsibility of elected officials in each jurisdiction.
A November, 2019 Pew Research study found that 90% of Americans favor legalization of medical and/or recreational cannabis. That same survey also reported that 55% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats were in favor of some type of legalization. The relationship between having cannabis reform measures on the ballot and party turnout remains unclear and unproven.
Current Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D), who has expressed openness to adult use legislation, recently blasted the state's Republican lawmakers for their resistance to passing medical marijuana legalization and decriminalization.
Trump and Cannabis Policy
Trump has rarely provided any meaningful or thoughtful public opinion on marijuana policy, although his Attorney General, Bill Barr, has been accused of fuelling numerous investigations into cannabis companies due to his personal, negative feelings about the industry.
In the past, when pressed on the cannabis policy by the media, the president has stated his support for states to set their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference, a position counter to many Republican lawmakers.
That's it. That's all. In other words, nothing.
It is not surprising, then, that Trump's first foray into voicing some kind of cannabis policy comes in the form of how it affects him and his reelection chances and not what may be in the best interest of the country or its citizens. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has put forward a plan to decriminalize marijuana possession, modestly reschedule the plant and facilitate expungements for prior cannabis convictions.
Look for Trump to to revisit this kind of irrational attack on cannabis reform as Arizona, a close state according the the latest polls, puts recreational legalIzation to the voters this November.
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