WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Next month, Joe Biden will enter the White House as America's 46th president. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) says Biden should remember who his friends are. And by "friends," Blumenauer means "stoners."
The U.S. congressman from Portland looks at the November election results and says Biden likely carried Arizona on a wave of voter turnout to support a cannabis legalization ballot measure. That was part of a pattern: Legal weed outperformed the Democratic Party nominee in all four states where it was on the ballot.
"The American public has signaled what they want," Blumenauer says. "The polls at at the ballot box are the most compelling."
Biden opposes cannabis legalization. Yet legal pot is one of several broadly popular issues that Democrats could build a coalition around. And nobody has tracked the shift of public opinion on pot more closely than Blumenauer, its fiercest champion in Congress.
This month, he presided over a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to legalize cannabis on the federal level. That bill is DOA in the Senate, yet Blumenauer says the victory wasn't merely symbolic.
Last week, he spoke to WW from his office on Capitol Hill. Much of our conversation focused on Blumenauer's campaign to save independent restaurants with federal aid. But he also discussed what the House vote for cannabis signaled.
And he made a surprising personal disclosure: He doesn't use pot.