MJBizMag October 2022 - 36

RACE FOR REFORM
" As far as the House and what it
could look like next Congress and what
that means for marijuana, the most
important vote any elected member
of Congress can cast is their choice
for leadership of the chamber, " said
Justin Strekal, founder of the Better
Organizing to Win Legalization Political
Action Committee (BOWL PAC),
which works for federal marijuana
legalization.
This is because the House majority
leader can expedite sending bills to the
floor for a vote. And right now, Strekal
said, Democratic lawmakers are much
more favorable to marijuana reform
than Republican leaders in the House
and Senate.
Given how close votes have been
on marijuana issues in the House-in
April, members voted 220 to 204 in
favor of the Marijuana Opportunity
Reinvestment and Expungement
(MORE) Act, for example-a handful of
overturned House seats could make a
difference.
It's hard to say which party has
benefited the most from redistricting.
However, the popular political blog
FiveThirtyEight noted: " The GOP is
positioned for a net gain of three to
four seats in 2022, just thanks to the
new lines alone. "
While we won't know the impact of
redistricting until after the November
election, marijuana advocates pointed
to races in five states that could have an
impact on legalization efforts.
FLORIDA
Since 2016, Rep. Al
Lawson, a Democrat
who voted for the
MORE Act and
the SAFE Banking
Act, represented
north Florida's fifth
congressional district.
district, which is currently represented
by anti-marijuana Republican Neal
Dunn. The National Organization for
the Reformation of Marijuana Laws
(NORML) gave Dunn a D-minus on its
political scorecard.
Morgan Fox, NORML's political
director, said the race is noteworthy
because a pro-reform incumbent who
would have won comfortably in his
former district is now facing a tough
battle against a Republican incumbent
staunchly opposed to marijuana reform.
GEORGIA
Redistricting could
also remove a promarijuana
vote in
Georgia. There, Reps.
Lucy McBath and
Carolyn Bourdeaux,
both Democrats who
supported the MORE
Act, had represented
two reliably
Democratic districts.
But under the new
voter maps, parts
of their districts
were consolidated,
leaving McBath's
district redder than before and
Bourdeaux's bluer. As a result, McBath
ran against Bourdeaux in a primary
and won. McBath's former district,
meanwhile, is expected to be won by
Rich McCormick, a Republican whose
position on marijuana legalization is
Rich McCormick
States Reform Act, lost his primary
battle against John Gibbs, a candidate
backed by former President Donald
Trump and whose marijuana positions
are unclear.
In November, Gibbs will take on
Democrat Hillary Scholten, who lost to
Meijer in 2020. The Michigan Cannabis
Industry Association gave Scholten an A
grade on its political scorecard.
The new district reportedly leans
Democrat.
Rep. Lucy McBath
Also in Michigan,
redistricting pitted
two pro-marijuana
Democrats in
a primary battle
where Rep. Haley
Stevens defeated
Rep. Andy Levin. The
key difference between the two is that
Levin co-sponsored the MORE Act,
while Stevens did not, although she
did vote for it.
Rep. Haley Stevens
ILLINOIS AND NEW YORK
Each of these states lost a House seat,
and because of redistricting, proreform
Democratic incumbents faced
off against each other. That means that
Illinois and New York will likely have
one less pro-reform candidate in their
delegations.
In New York,
unknown.
" This one sticks out because McBath's
old district is likely to flip red in
November, " Fox said.
Rep. Al Lawson
But redistricting reconfigured that
district. Florida's new district map
puts Lawson's hometown, Tallahassee,
in the state's second congressional
36 October 2022 | MJBizMagazine
MICHIGAN
In the state's
redrawn third
congressional
district, freshman
Republican Peter
Meijer, who cosponsored
Nancy
Mace's legalization bill known as the
Rep. Jerry Nadler
defeated Rep.
Carolyn Maloney.
Both were cosponsors
of the
MORE Act.
Rep. Jerry Nadler
Hillary Scholten
In Illinois, Rep.
Marie Newman,
a Democrat who
co-sponsored the
MORE Act, lost her
primary battle in
the state's new sixth
district to Rep. Sean
Casten, who voted for the MORE Act
but didn't co-sponsor it.
" It is disappointing to lose coRep.
Sean Casten
sponsors to this redistricting, " Fox said.

MJBizMag October 2022

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