This November, voters in Maine will choose a U.S. senator. The race is between the incumbent, Angus King, an independent, and State Senator Eric Brakey, a Republican. Both candidates have expressed support for states’ rights on the question of legalization, but Brakey has gone further in support of federal reform.
With more states likely to pass some sort of legalization in November, there are signs from both the GOP and the Democrats that federal reform is likely to be taken seriously in 2019. For example, one proposed bill, the STATES Act, has bipartisan support. As polls swing toward support for legalization nationally, politicians are following suit.
King has voiced support for legislation to allow marijuana to be studied as a treatment for veterans. Regarding the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, which sought to “promote scientific and medical research into the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage on veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other illnesses,” King has endorsed this statement from Melissa Bryant, the chief policy officer of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA):
The time for change on cannabis for veterans has come. IAVA members have demanded to be heard on the important and emerging health potential of utilizing cannabis to treat injuries of war. Veterans consistently and passionately have communicated that cannabis offers effective relief in tackling some of the most pressing injuries we face when returning from war, and we need to authorize the VA to research this potential. IAVA applauds Senator King for leading on this major bipartisan legislation which will address the critical health needs of veterans.
King himself said: “We owe it to our veterans who need medical assistance to do everything we can to help them face their challenges in healthy, productive ways, including research into alternative treatments that may help ease their pain.” King’s office has also issued a statement acknowledging the “growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabinoids can be effective in treating a number of conditions, such as epilepsy and cancer” and expressing dismay at the efforts of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “crack down on states where medical marijuana has been legalized.” Medical marijuana is legal in Maine.
Brakey has been more outspoken than King in support of allowing states to legalize, including adult use. King supported the decision of Maine’s voters to approve adult use via ballot initiative in 2016. Comparing the prohibition of marijuana to the failed experiment with prohibition of alcohol in the twentieth century, Brakey has said: “I don’t see anywhere in our Constitution where we gave Washington, D.C., the authority to prohibit the use of a plant–and to throw people in cages for the use of a plant.” This statement is in line with other positions of his supporting states’ rights on the marijuana question. Brakey called the actions of Sessions against legal states “unconstitutional.”
Brakey has also supported a medical marijuana reform bill in Maine, citing personal experience. He said:
Years back, when I first encountered the idea of medical marijuana, I thought it was a joke…just some clever excuse used to try to get to adult-use marijuana, but I was wrong. My fiancée is a medical cannabis patient….She suffered with intractable pain for much of her life. I have personally seen how access to this medicine has helped her.
King and Brakey are the frontrunners, but there is a Democrat, Zak Ringelstein, who is running as well. He supports federal legalization, having said: “Now, it’s time to legalize marijuana on the federal level.” Thus for voters in Maine, all the U.S. senate candidates support legalization in one form or another.
What do you think? Will the 2019 U.S. Congress pass a marijuana reform bill? Will the president sign that bill? Leave a comment below.