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NORML is pleased to present its 2016 Congressional Scorecard

Executive Summary

NORML is pleased to present its 2016 Congressional Scorecard. The Scorecard is an all-encompassing database that assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to members of Congress based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records.

THE TIME IS NOW

Now more than ever there exists majority public support for ending America’s nearly century-long experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a taxed and regulated adult marketplace. Sixty-one percent of American adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to nationwide polling data provided by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Four in five US adults (81 percent) favor legalizing cannabis as a therapeutic treatment option, according to a 2015 nationwide Harris Poll, and 67 percent of voters believe that states, not the federal government, ought to be the ultimate arbiters of marijuana regulatory policy.

While states continue moving forward and pioneering reforms however, the federal government still largely remains an obstruction to progress. The ongoing conflict between state and federal cannabis policy remains an unnecessary impediment to those jurisdictions wishing to fully explore the wide range of regulatory options before them. Ultimately, this is a conflict that can only be resolved by Congress, who possesses the authority to amend federal law.

HOW NORML’S CONGRESSIONAL SCORECARD WAS CALCULATED

The Congressional Scorecard grades members of the United States House and Senate on a simplified ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale.

  • An ‘A’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults.
  • A ‘B’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the ability of a state to move forward with cannabis law reform policies free from federal interference.
  • A ‘C’ letter grade indicates that this member supports policies specific to the legalization of medical cannabis and/or the decriminalization of cannabis.
  • A ‘D’ letter grade indicates that this member has expressed no support for any significant marijuana law reform
  • An ‘F’ letter grade indicates that this member expresses significant and vocal opposition to marijuana law reform

Grading is based upon members’ 2015 voting records, whether or not a member has sponsored or cosponsored legislation specific to federal marijuana law reform, whether or not a member has sponsored marijuana-related amendments, and/or their public statements or testimony. Those members with no voting record or comments on the topic received no grade.

KEY FINDINGS

Below are NORML’s key findings. Among the 535 members of the 114th Congress:

  • 312 members (58 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (258 Representatives and 54 Senators)
  • Of these, 19 members (4%) received a grade of ‘A’ (17 Representatives and 2 Senators);
  • 221 members (41%) received a ‘B’ grade (193 Representatives and 28 Senators);
  • 72 members (13%) received a ‘C’ grade (48 Representatives and 24 Senators)
  • 170 members (32%) received a ‘D’ grade (150 Representatives and 20 Senators)
  • 37 members (7%) received failing grade (20 Representatives and 17 Senators)
  • 54 Senators (54%) received a passing grade of a C or higher. (Two A’s, 28 B’s, and 24 C’s)
  • 258 Representatives (59%) received a passing grade of a C or higher. (17 A’s, 193 B’s, and 48 C’s)
  • Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 208 members (89%) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.
  • Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 102 members (34%) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.

It is clear from this analysis that support for substantive marijuana law reform is far less pronounced among elected officials than it is among the voters they represent.

WHAT’S NEXT

While many advocates have been working tirelessly to amend their local and state marijuana, proponents must also engage in concerted efforts to educate federally elected officials. Here’s how:

  • Become an engaged voter. Know who your federally elected officials are and where they stand on the issue of marijuana law reform. NORML’s Congressional Scorecard can help you get started.
  • Urge your elected officials to take action. Use NORML’s#TakeAction Center to stay up to date on pending federal legislation and use our pre-written letters to contact your members and urge their support. Visitors to NORML’s #TakeAction Center have sent over 47,000 letter to members of Congress in the past year.
  • Team up with other advocates. Coordinating with local advocates through aNORML Chapter makes federally elected officials aware that voters are organizing in their district. Organizing locally also helps advocates build a consistent message.
  • Stay up to date on national lobbying events.NORML’s 2016 Congressional Lobby Day is scheduled for May 23rd and 24th this year. Consider travelling to Washington D.C. to meet advocates from across the country and to lobby Capitol Hill together.

NORML is excited to share with you the results of its 2016 Congressional Scorecard. The full report will be released on 4/20. The information provided in the scorecard will periodically be updated as needed. Any questions, comments, or concerns specific to the scorecard are welcome and can be sent to: [email protected].

**Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. Please consider making a donation of at least $4.20 so we may continue to work towards legalization and providing you the tools necessary to be an informed voter**

 

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS (Use it for communicating with your Congressperson if you wish.)

    Dear Congressperson,

    Sixty-one percent of American adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to nationwide polling data provided by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Four in five US adults (81 percent) favor legalizing cannabis as a therapeutic treatment option, according to a 2015 nationwide Harris Poll, and 67 percent of voters believe that states, not the federal government, ought to be the ultimate arbiters of marijuana regulatory policy.

    MMJ is supported by the majority of Americans. Even flat out legalizing it is favored by a smaller majority of Americans.

    Here where our representatives stand:

    Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 208 members (89%) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.
    Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 102 members (34%) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.

    It is clear from this analysis that support for substantive marijuana law reform is far less pronounced among elected officials than it is among the voters they represent.

    Why doesn’t Congress represent our views as a populace? Not just for MMJ by the way. It is clear that Congress is dragging far behind the US populace in many issues.

    Is this because a percentage of Congress represents big Pharma instead?
    Or the DEA refuses to let go of funding using the proceeds of property confiscated and ruining the lives of Americans?

    Or Congress just isn’t paying attention to research backing the medical uses of MMJ?

    No one is suggesting making it available to minors, any more than alcohol or cigarettes (the largest killers of Americans of the legal drug list) are. In fact, no one has died as a result of an overdose of MMJ. Not one person. The same cannot be said of opiates prescribed to millions of Americans that they become addicted to. The time for MMJ is upon us.

    It’s only up to Congress to catch up with the rest of the nation. Please do so.

    Sincerely,
    Mick Malkemus, MS

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