To Legalize Marijuana, Suddenly Chuck Schumer is Willing to Play Hardball.

The Senate Majority Leader says he’ll move forward with or without the President.

Lauren Elizabeth
3 min readApr 5, 2021


Alex Wong/Getty Images

With the newfound unilateral control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, it should come as no surprise that Democrats have been expected to deliver on policy proposals that they would not have been able to accomplish otherwise, among them being the cancellation of student loan debt and the legalization of marijuana on the federal level. After Democrats failed to deliver on the $15 minimum wage in the Covid relief package, I’ll be the first to admit I have been very cynical about what we can come to expect from the Democrats during these two years.

That said, it appears as though facing an upcoming 2022 re-election campaign and pressure to accomplish something substantive he would not typically be under, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to be shifting his approach. At least, in the rhetorical sense.

After his home state of New York finally legalized marijuana, Schumer appears to have been filled not only with a renewed sense of confidence on the issue, but a new willingness to play hardball with his fellow Democrats that is not something we would typically see from him.

When discussing legalization efforts and Joe Biden’s hesitancy to act at the federal level with Politico, Schumer said:

“I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will, but at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

Of course at this point it is nothing more than rhetoric, but for Chuck Schumer of all people to say Democrats are going to move forward on a policy proposal regardless of the President’s position was previously unheard of. While it’s still too early to give him credit on the matter just yet (we’ll save that for when he actually does it), his words speak to how drastically real threats of a potential primary challenge can move a politician. That said, it’s also much easier for Schumer to talk like this when he knows he likely does not have the sixty votes necessary to move forward in the Senate, with no plans to put up a fight for getting rid of the filibuster that would allow them to pass such legislation with a simple majority.

If he whips up the Democratic caucus to nuke the filibuster, I will believe he is absolutely serious.

His tone has certainly changed and it will be interesting to see if that amounts to anything, but it is the actions that matter. Far too often politicians like to bluster for the sake of earning brownie points with their base, but it will be interesting to see if he follows through with it. I genuinely believe he is eager to deliver on at least something before he goes home to seek re-election, and the legalization of marijuana and potentially the relief of student loan debt could be it.



Lauren Elizabeth

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at or Twitter @xlauren_mx