Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate for the Georgia Senate, outlined his support for marijuana legalization in a video posted to TikTok ahead of the state’s crucial runoff vote on January 5.
Ossoff’s race alongside a second runoff election for the other Georgia seat in the Senate will determine which party will control the country’s upper chamber. If Ossoff and the other Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock win, there would be a 50-50 split among the two main parties, with vice president-elect Kamala Harris’s deciding vote meaning the Senate would belong to the Democrats.
While Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler remain slight favorites, a win for the Democrats could clear the way for federal marijuana reform following last month’s historic House vote to decriminalize cannabis.
In recent weeks, Jon Ossoff’s campaign has taken to TikTok, with its mainly young user base, in an attempt to reach out to and mobilize the youth vote. In one such clip, Ossoff is on the phone placing a food order for pickup. He spells out his first name and takes this as an opportunity to lay out his progressive agenda, including for marijuana legalization.
“Hey, yeah I’d like to place an order for pickup please.
Yeah, it’s Jon. ‘J’ as in jobs.
‘O’ as in over 1.5 million Georgians have voted early in the runoff for U.S. Senate and if you want to relieve student loan debt, save the environment, legalize marijuana and increase the minimum wage to $15 you better vote now.
And ‘N’ is for New Civil Rights Act.”
While politicians are known for outlandish promises on the campaign trail, cannabis legalization would be a distinct possibility if the Democrats reclaimed the Senate. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has made clear marijuana reform legislation would be brought to the Senate floor for a vote under his leadership.
On the other hand, if the Republicans hold on to their majority then the chances of federal cannabis reform happening within the next two years appear remote. The GOP leadership has given no indication it would hold a vote on the measure, and has been hostile to the attempts of Democrat lawmakers to include relief for marijuana businesses in the recently approved coronavirus stimulus package.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) bluntly stated the importance of the Georgia Senate race on the prospects of federal marijuana decriminalization.
“Look, if you’re in Georgia right now, you will control whether weed gets legalized or not based upon whether you go out and vote,” he said in an interview with VICE News.
Ossoff has also discussed marijuana legalization in media appearances on the campaign trail. Speaking to Rolling Out, he said “alcohol is more destructive to the human body and mind than cannabis” and called out the hypocrisy of lawmakers who question the safety of marijuana while taking money from pharmaceutical companies that produce highly addictive and dangerous opioids.
“I’m not just for decriminalization,” he said. “I’m for full legalization of marijuana nationwide and the expungement of all records for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.”