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Republican Voter Turnout Strategy Could Sabotage Marijuana Legalization Efforts in 2018

Conservatives could blow marijuana initiatives out of the water with heavy GOP turnout.

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President Donald Trump’s administration is apparently hashing out a scheme to put conservative initiatives on the ballot in the 2018 midterm election in order to maintain Republican control. It is a ploy that could ultimately end up sabotaging liberal agendas in states pushing to legalize marijuana, some reports say.

Former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove used this type of strategy during his days with President George W. Bush, when he headed up efforts to put a barrage of anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in key states to drive voter turn out for the GOP.

Although Rove has maintained the “deny until you die” mantra about his methods, political analysts largely credit this move for Bush’s reelection.

But this time around Trump’s gang of advisors is looking to saturate Red States where Democratic Congressmen are up for reelection with ballot measures related to tax reform and other economic issues. The idea is to pull more GOP supporters out of the woodwork, thereby maintaining Republican-control on Capitol Hill and perhaps even paving an easier path for Trump to survive his campaign for reelection.

To accomplish this, Republican leaders are apparently leaning on the masterminds behind the Brexit movement.

“Spearheading the discussions is Republican strategist Gerry Gunster, a referendum expert who helped to lead the successful 2016, populist-infused campaign for Britain's exit from the European Union. Gunster — who visited then-president-elect Trump in New York City along with Brexit leader Nigel Farage after the November election — has spoken about the ballot initiative concept with top administration aides, including political director Bill Stepien and Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and a veteran GOP operative,” Politico reports.

Although it remains to be seen whether a conservative ballot initiative push will actually happen, especially considering the overall cost and time involved with these types of campaigns, a move of this magnitude could inadvertently put some marijuana legalization efforts in the sewer.

“An administration-led campaign would give conservatives a counterweight to liberals, who have already begun circulating possible initiatives in states aimed at mobilizing supporters in 2018 — some of them centered on marijuana legalization. Several midterm battlegrounds, including Missouri, Florida and Arizona, may see cannabis-related items on the ballot,” wrote Politico’s Alex Isenstadt.

But before an initiative campaign could even begin to work its magic for the Republicans, the party would need to find a controversial, yet extremely popular issue to latch onto.

Fortunately, there is little to no chance that subject could be anything related to marijuana. Some of the latest polls show that more than 60 percent of the population is in favor of cannabis being treated no differently than alcohol or tobacco.

Some experts argue that even the tax cut incentive would not be enough for the scheme to work.

If the Democrats gain control of Congress in 2018, not only would it likely ruin any chance President Trump has at securing the White House for another four years, it would also give federal lawmakers a fighting chance at passing a number of reforms pertaining to marijuana, including those designed to legalize the leaf nationwide. Another round of Republican domination ensures the issue will never receive the appropriate consideration in the near future. 

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