Full legalization remains a tall order with such a slim majority: They will have a 50-50 share of the chamber and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, will be able to join to break ties.
Securing the votes, however, is a another story. It will almost certainly require 60 votes to move any legislation, meaning there will need to be significant buy-in from Republicans. Moderate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia are not guaranteed allies, and pro-legalization Republicans can’t be counted on to vote for a bill as progressive as the MORE Act. Just five Republicans backed the bill in the House.
“In that environment, I think, MORE fails, and then they go back to piecemeal legislation around cannabis,” said John Hudak, an expert on cannabis policy at The Brookings Institution. “Or they start to fold parts of MORE into a bigger criminal justice racial justice policing piece of legislation — that, I think, is probably the smart way to do it.”