NORML Congressional Report Card: B-Grade or Better for Majority of Reps
With just weeks to go before Election Day, NORML has unveiled its updated 2016 Congressional Report Card, a database that assigns a letter grade A through F to members of Congress based on their comments and voting records on matters specific to marijuana policy.
Of the 535 members of the 114th Congress:
- 22 members (4%) receive a grade of A (20 Representatives and 2 Senators).
- 254 members (47%) receive a B grade (218 Representatives and 36 Senators).
- 54 members (10%) receive a C grade (32 Representatives and 22 Senators).
- 172 members (32%) receive a D’grade (149 Representatives and 23 Senators).
- 32 members (6%) receive a failing grade (16 Representatives and 16 Senators).
- Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 215 (92%) receive a passing grade of a C or higher.
- Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 113 members (37%) receive a passing grade of C or higher.
NORML’s analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are well ahead of most of their federally elected officials. While the majority of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of Congressional members voice support for this position. Approximately half (51%) of federal lawmakers favor liberalizing medical cannabis policies. However, this percentage remains far below the level of support frequently expressed by voters in state and national polls.
Also evident is that Congressional support for marijuana law reform is largely a partisan issue. While more than nine out of 10 Democrats express support for some level of reform, just over one-third of Republicans hold similar positions. This partisanship lies in contrast to voters’ sentiments, which tend to view the subject as a non-partisan issue.
Voters’ views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decade, and this November voters in nine states will decide on ballot initiatives specific to legalizing marijuana. Yet, the positions of their federally elected officials have not progressed in a similar manner. Constituents ought to demand better. It is time for lawmakers to legislate on behalf of policies that more closely reflect marijuana’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.