Newly Elected House Democratic Leader Says Marijuana Is ‘Opportunity For Common Ground’ Under GOP Control

Newly Elected House Democratic Leader Says Marijuana Is ‘Opportunity For Common Ground’ Under GOP Control
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The newly elected House Democratic leader says marijuana reform is one policy area where he believes there can be further bipartisan progress in the next Congress, even with Republicans in the majority. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) discussed his vision for the 118th Congress during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. He was asked where he saw opportunities for “bipartisan compromise” and proactively brought up marijuana reform. The congressman, whose colleagues recently voted to make him House minority leader, cited his work with Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) in introducing the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE) Act this year, which he said is meant to “prepare the federal government to move toward the legalization of cannabis, which state after state—blue states and red states and purple states all across America—are doing.”

“There is an opportunity for common ground,” he said, adding that he also “worked with the Trump administration in the past on criminal justice reform” like the First Step Act. Modest marijuana reform, as well as issues like infrastructure and trade policy, are “foundational things that hopefully we can build upon as we look to the future,” Jeffries said. Of course, the path forward for any legislation in the next Congress under Republican control will also need sign-off from GOP leadership, and the congressman nominated by his party to become speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has been hostile to most cannabis proposals—except that he’s supported a bipartisan marijuana banking bill. Theoretically, if Congress passes a package of modest reforms like banking and expungements as they’re working to do during the lame duck session, that could set Jeffries up to engage in negotiations and reach compromises on additional legislation next year. Last year, Jeffries and Reps. Ayanna Pressley…

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