A generation gap conflict over marijuana is running into new old-versus-young roadblocks in the U.S. Senate.
A bill that would keep federal legal hands off the 24 states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized pot, mostly for medicinal use but in some cases recreational, while allowing banks to handle money from marijuana operations in those states, sponsored by three of the younger members of the Senate, has run into opposition from more senior senators who hold the reins of power firmly in their hands, Politico notes.
However, just how long that opposition will last, once inevitable attrition comes into play, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, though nearly half of the states have approved the use of marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law.
"The Senate is going to move," Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., 45, told Politico. "This to me is one of those catalytic points in our country. We're going to win. It's not a question of if — the question is when."
Booker has joined with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., 48, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., 52, to propose the bill, which also calls on the federal government to recognize the medical uses of marijuana, Politico notes.
However, whether the proposal will ever make it past the Senate Judiciary Committee to a vote in the current Senate session is questionable.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, 81, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told Politico, "I'm probably against it," and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, 63, said, "I don't think we need to go there. This is a more dangerous topic than what a lot of the advocates acknowledge."
The generational conflict goes beyond the Senate. Pew Research Center found
that while 52 percent of the general population favors legalization of marijuana, support among millennial Republicans soars to 63 percent, but drops rapidly to less than a majority in earlier GOP generations.
Among millennial Democrats, 77 percent favor legalization, Pew notes, with GenX Democrats favoring it at 61 percent and Baby Boomer Generation Democrats by 66 percent.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., 68, said, "I'm really uneasy about any kind of signal that might increase" drug use, Politico reported.
"I'm not sure it has any medical justification whatsoever."
Gillibrand, Paul and Booker are concentrating their argument on marijuana's medical use, rather than recreational use, as approved by voters in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) reports.
"It's really an issue of understanding the medical uses and the diseases that it actually treats," Gillibrand said, Politico reports.
"If you meet any of these patients, particularly the young kids who are suffering from 100 seizures a day, you want to give them whatever medicine their doctor prescribes."
Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project told Politico that the elder senators are "far behind the public on this issue. I do think some people need to leave the voting rolls, so to speak."
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