Marijuana News Roundup: The Most Pot-Friendly US Representatives and Senators

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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) last week released its 2016 Congressional Scorecard, ranking every U.S. Representative and Senator with a letter grade from ‘A’ to ‘F’ based on their comments and voting records on matters specific to marijuana policy. More than half of Congress (330 Representatives and 60 Senators) were given a grade of ‘C’ or better.

That’s the good news for marijuana legalization advocates. The less-good news is that just 20 Representatives and 2 Senators received grades of ‘A’ compared with 16 Representatives and 16 Senators who received grades of ‘F.’

Of 233 Democrats in the Congress, 215 received grades of ‘C’ or higher while just 113 of 302 Republicans attained the same score.

In NORML’s view, the scorecard underscores the fact that Congress is way behind the electorate when it comes to legalizing marijuana:

This analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are well ahead of many of their federally elected officials. While the majority of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of Congressional members voice support for this position. Approximately half (51%) of federal lawmakers favor liberalizing medical cannabis policies. However, this percentage remains far below the level of support frequently expressed by voters in state and national polls.

In the U.S. Senate, only Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) received ‘A’ grades. Here’s the list of the 20 House members who were given ‘A’ grades:

  • Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
  • Jared Huffman (D-CA)
  • Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • Ted Lieu (D-CA)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
  • Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA)
  • Mike Honda (D-CA)
  • Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
  • Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
  • Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
  • Mike Capuano (D-MA)
  • Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
  • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  • Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Don Beyer (D-VA)
  • Mark Pocan (D-WI)

For the full rankings and methodology visit the NORML website.

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
When a bipartisan group of the state’s top elected officials stood before a bank of cameras this summer and declared their opposition to legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts, they kept returning to a familiar argument: The drug too often leads to the opioid abuse destroying so many families.

“If you know anyone in the recovery community, talk to them,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a recovering alcoholic and longtime advocate for those struggling with addiction. “You’ll hear that most of them, many of them, started with marijuana.” Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo echoed fears of marijuana as a “gateway” drug.

But six weeks before voters decide on a referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana, a review of the scientific literature and interviews with experts shows that, while there is some evidence for the gateway theory, it is not as solid as the state’s political leadership would suggest.

Read more at the Boston Globe.