Election 2017: Cannabis Reform & Progressive Politics Win Big Across the Board

Election 2017: Cannabis Reform & Progressive Politics Win Big Across the Board

Wins for Democratic governors in New Jersey and Virginia are expected to have immediate implications for marijuana laws, capping an election day full of liberal victories.

by Zach Harris

Lead photo via Flickr user & N.J. Governor-Elect Phil Murphy

It’s been exactly one year since America elected Donald Trump the President of the United States. In the 365 days since, Trump has brought his outlandish Twitter troll persona to the White House, using the full breadth of his incompetence to threaten nuclear war against North Korea and restrict civil rights at home. But after one full rotation of the earth with Trump as the leader of the free world, Americans had the chance to return to the voting booth, and they did not disappoint.

In yesterday’s elections, politicians and ballot measures with explicit anti-Trump agendas carried the day across the country, marking what the New York Times described as “a suburban rebellion, where more moderate voters rejected Mr. Trump and embraced Democrats.”

In New Jersey, Gubernatorial disgrace Chris Christie will finally assume a new role as the Garden State’s most famous unemployed beach bum, replaced by Democrat Phil Murphy, who has said on multiple occasions that he plans to sign legislation legalizing recreational cannabis shortly after taking office.

With a bill already introduced in the New Jersey Senate to fully legalize marijuana for adult use, Garden State legislators are hopeful that cannabis reform will be a top priority for the incoming Murphy administration.

“Given his support and the leadership of the house, I think we have obviously a legitimate opportunity to do this in the first 100 days of the Murphy administration for an outright cannabis law done legislatively,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who introduced New Jersey’s most recent legalization bill, to the New York Times earlier this year.

If Murphy does legalize weed next year, New Jersey has an opportunity to not only create comprehensive cannabis access for its own 9 million residents, but also for visitors from neighboring metropolises like New York City, Philadelphia, and other East Coast hubs that have so far been left out of the legal weed revolution.

In Virginia  a historically red state home to this summer’s high-profile white supremacist rally in Charlottesville  the Trump backlash and a growing progressivism in the Old Dominion resulted in key successes for the left side of the aisle.

Democrat Ralph Northam won Virginia’s race for governor, taking down Republican and Trump impersonator Ed Gillespie, who ran his campaign on socially charged, conservative values, taking strong stances in support of keeping Confederate statues and punishing NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

Throughout his successful campaign, Governor-Elect Northam spoke freely about uniting the troubled state, rebuking his opponent’s fear-mongering Trumpisms at every turn.

And while Northam has not gone as far as Murphy in his support for cannabis reform, Virginia’s next governor has expressed intentions to decriminalize the plant statewide in attempt to finally end the state’s long history of racially charged marijuana arrests.

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” Northam wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

In addition to the gubernatorial victory, Virginia voters made their progressive resistance felt across the ballot, electing Danica Roem, the country’s first transgender woman in state legislature, to the state’s House of Delegates.

Roem beat out incumbent Delegate Bob Marshall, who introduced legislation earlier this year that would have a turned transgender people’s bathroom use into a law enforcement issue, marking a decisive win in a race that political pundits described as a direct rebuke of the type of political action made popular by President Trump.

Compounding those more high profile successes, cannabis reform also won a significant victory in Athens, Ohio, with Forbes reporting that the home of Ohio University passed a measure to decriminalize cannabis possession and cultivation up to 200 grams.

In Philadelphia, progressive Democrat Larry Krasner won the election for District Attorney, where he has promised to significantly change the city’s history of racist arrests, including a move to stop prosecuting marijuana possession charges.

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.



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