Come at Me: A Surprising Pro-Cannabis Voice in Congress - News | MERRY JANE
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Come at Me: A Surprising Pro-Cannabis Voice in Congress

As primary season keeps on going, one former candidate has taken a daring progressive step as the rest of his party’s reactionary experiment continues blindly on.

by Tim Baker

by Tim Baker

“Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.”

“When they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’ ”

“I miss George W Bush! I wish he were president right now!”

These quotes, from South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, do not seem to denote a cannabis-friendly politician, but Sen. Graham has lately begun to seem like the most sane voice in the lunatic-run asylum that is the GOP, eschewing these kinds of one-liners for a different tone entirely.

After reversing his stance on the ongoing fight between the FBI and Apple regarding encryption—from “I don’t think you’re talking to the terrorists: I know you’re not, I know I’m not, so we don’t have anything to worry about,” to “I will say that I’m a person that’s been moved by the arguments about the precedent we set and the damage we might be doing to our own national security”—he proved that he might be open to “leftist” changes after all.

The CARERS act, whose acronym stands for Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States, died a slow and quiet death in congress last year.

It is a bare-bones medical cannabis act which would have allowed state medical marijuana programs where they exist to continue without being harassed by the federal government, descheduled cannabidiol (CBD) nationwide, allowed banks to cater to cannabis-related businesses in legal states, and allow for more research into the actual versus the perceived harms and benefits of cannabis.

After a year in legislative purgatory, none other than Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—a state which as of now does not allow medical cannabis—seems to have brought the bill back from the dead by adding his name as a co-sponsor.

By lending an important republican voice to the progressive side of the cannabis argument, the federal government could be one step closer to allowing the kind of cannabis research that lets foreign companies with more freedom research with hemp (such as the U.K.’s GW Pharmaceuticals, whose shares began a giant climb after an epilepsy medication developed with British government sanction).

The CARERS Act would still have to be allowed by Republican and Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, a political opponent of cannabis, but having Graham’s signature attached is a breath of progressive fresh air into a party that seems to be pulled further right every time the Donald appears on TV.

As I write this, voters are heading to the polls in the crucial states of Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri, and Ohio to decide who will represent the two major parties in the country. By the time primary season reaches my home state New York, if there is any kind of benevolent force in the universe there will be a presumptive nominee for both parties.

I can’t vote in the primaries anyway (My mother told me when I was 18 that if I registered as a Socialist I’d never get a job, and I still thought I’d want a real job so I registered Independent), but if I were—god-forbid—a registered republican, I’d be more than a little sorry Lindsey Graham wasn’t taken seriously when he had a chance.

I disagree with almost all of his politics, but he’s had the guts to step left when everyone else in his party is rushing to the right, scrambling to the tune of their Tang-colored, comb-overed Pied Piper’s totally normal and oft-touted skin flute.


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Tim Baker

Tim Baker is a New York-based writer and sometimes editor whose work has appeared in Newsweek, TV Guide, CBS and Discovery Special Editions, and can regularly be found at thrillist.com. He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School and also attended Hunter College of the City University of New York.



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