If you clicked this piece based on the headline, it’s probably because you were wondering why you hadn’t heard of the Cannabis ticket. Surely, all this talk about Democrats and Republicans would fade if people realized there was such an option? Not exactly. Calling it the Cannabis ticket is just my way of saying that my voting strategy is focused on putting pro-cannabis candidates in office, rather than voting on a single party. Consider this my confession: I am a single issue voter.
Single (or primary) issue voters aren’t new. It’s super common, but media coverage tends to focus on folks who hang their hat on abortion or gun control, and thusly paint single issue voters in a poor light. However, there are plenty of us who vote on cannabis, and I think more of us should. The legal cannabis industry is growing quickly. It’s up 15% over last year, and currently supports over 240,000 full time jobs. It’s going to continue to grow as the industry becomes increasingly destigmatized. Dispensaries were identified as essential during the height of the quarantines earlier this year. More political leaders than ever believe in its legalization, and with good reason. This once “illicit” industry is a source of growth, opportunity, and- lets face it- future tax revenue. I predict that many more single issue voters will emerge in the coming years as the industry becomes even more relevant.
So, who to vote for? This is a question I struggled with since the start of this year’s election cycle. First, I have to say that I’m not that ideological when it comes to voting for the big office so I tend to focus on the two main parties, because I like my vote to count. I liked Andrew Yang early on, but Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren emerged as the obvious choices early on. Bernie has been consistently pro weed for most of his career and remains so, and Warren and her plans were good, but they’re long out of the running.
I thought Trump might pull out some last minute stops to legalize cannabis, due to its popularity as an issue. Or at least tease it as an option, but he still says shit like cannabis users “lose IQ points”, so he’s clearly no ally. That left me with Biden, who wants to decriminalize and reschedule cannabis, not deschedule it. So, not the best choices. I’m forced to admit that, for me, it comes down to who is more likely to support my issue, and in this crazy times, it comes down to the potential second in command. Trump’s second is Mike Pence, who actively votes against protecting state medical cannabis programs from federal interference. Biden’s second is the Kamala Harris, Senate cosponsor of the bill to federally legalize cannabis. It’s a no brainer for me, albeit not a decision I’m making lightly or out of an abundance of choices.
I’m following a similar strategy for my local elections. Anyone who has shown support for cannabis gets my vote. That means I vote for pro-cannabis state senators, congressmen, council members, and even mayors, regardless of party. If there’s a green party candidate on the ballot, they get my vote because in my opinion, the Green Party is where we should all be looking. How do I find it this information? To be honest, it takes planning and research, which can feel like a lot but it’s no different than what other single issue voters are doing.
I use resources like the Marijuana Policy Project to find ballot measures in my state to pay attention to, and I visit candidate websites to understand their position. If it’s not stated, I ask. Essentially, I make a plan to vote down the ballot, then I do it. Simple as that. My hope is that, by focusing on this key issue, me, and people like me, will push legalization forward and push prohibition into the past, ultimately for the benefit of society.