Now here's something that could be very beneficial for soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's (D. NV) re-election prospects in 2016:
By the looks of it, Harry Reid will need all the help he can get if he decides to run for re-election in two years, and one thing that may lend the Senate Minority Leader a mellow hand is marijuana.
Last week, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada said it submitted more than 145,000 ballot initiative signatures to county offices in the state. If approved, that would be enough to force Nevada’s Republican-majority legislature to consider legalizing recreational marijuana in its next session.
A new law would, of course, require approval in both chambers, as well as the signature of Governor Brian Sandoval, who is also a Republican. But if state lawmakers refuse to consider the measure, the ballot initiative would automatically go to voters in 2016, possibly giving Democrats more reason to show up on Election Day, or so the argument goes.
Already, Democrats are trying to the legalization of recreational marijuana as leverage. In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal last week, State Senator Tick Segerblom warned his Republican counterparts that they should vote on the pot proposal soon or risk a possible wave of motivated, marijuana-loving Democrats that could impact other 2016 races.
“If you look around the country, one of the biggest factors in turnout is having marijuana on the ballot,” he told the newspaper.
Earlier this year, Reid came out in support of medical marijuana which is a big move for him:
On Thursday, Reid told the Las Vegas Sun that his views on teenage David Brooks' favorite baser pleasure have evolved. "If you'd asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer—I would have said no, because it leads to other stuff, but I can't say that anymore. I think we need to take a real close look at this. I think that there's some medical reasons for marijuana."
Nevada is one of twenty states where medical marijuana is legal, but in September three of its largest cities placed local moratoriums on applications for new dispensaries. Reid's support could go a long way toward lifting those moratoriums.
Reid, who said he's never tried marijuana, didn't go so far as to say that he would endorse full legalization, as in Colorado. ("I don't know about that. I just think that we need to look at the medical aspects of it.") But he did acknowledge the neat and groovy point that spending billions of dollars going after pot smokers is irrational. "I guarantee you one thing. We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana."
While legalized marijuana may not have helped Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) defeat Dan Sullivan (R. AK), having legalized weed on the ballot in a Presidential election would be beneficial for Reid. Obama has been evolving on this issue but even in 2012, when Colorado, a swing state, legalized marijuana, the state went to Obama. Even when the justice department under Obama was cracking down heavily on medical marijuana dispensaries. So far Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) is the only Senator to come out in support of full legalization for marijuana when he voted to legalize it in his home state of Oregon this year. It'll be interesting to see if Reid would like to become the second Senator to back full legalization.