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A or F? How Congress scores on marijuana

NORML would like to wish you a Happy 4/20! In honor of the annual holiday we are pleased to release our 2016 Congressional Scorecard.


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With 61 percent of American adults now advocating that "the use of marijuana should be made legal," and 67 percent of voters believing states, not the federal government, ought to be the ultimate arbiters of marijuana regulatory policy, it's no longer acceptable for the federal government to continue to be an impediment to progress.

Do you know where your federally elected officials stand?

Our Congressional 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.


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)
  • Nineteen members (3.6 percent) received a grade of "A" (17 Representatives and 2 Senators) and 37 members (6.9 percent) received failing grade (20 Representatives and 17 Senators)
  • Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 208 members (89.3 percent) received a passing grade of a "C" or higher.
  • Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 102 members (33.8 percent) received a passing grade of a "C" or higher.

How NORML's Congressional Scorecard was calculated:

  • 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 was 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.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got an "F," while Minority Leader Harry Reid got a "C." Arizona's John McCain got a "B," as did presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

In the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi got a "B," as did House Speaker Paul Ryan. Former House Speaker John Boehner was unrated because he was absent for all three votes on marijuana and had no sponsorships or comments on the topic.

Want to look up your congressman's grade? Click here for the complete 2016 Congressional Scorecard.

Commentary by Danielle Keane, the political director of pro-marijuana-legalization group NORML. Previously, she was the president's assistant at The Children's Campaign. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleIsNORML.

Note: This was originally published on www.norml.org.

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