Congress to Block D.C. Marijuana Legalization | Marijuana

Congress to Block D.C. Marijuana Legalization

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Marijuana.com has learned that Congressional leaders will move to block Washington. D.C.’s voter-approved marijuana legalization measure from taking effect. Sources say that Democrats and Republicans have agreed that a broad spending bill expected to be released today will include language exercising the federal government’s power to prevent the District of Columbia from using its own local money to enact and enforce marijuana reforms.

Despite saying “We believe in home rule” for D.C. at a press conference on Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has reportedly signed off on what is being called a “deal” to let the city continue the policy of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, which was enacted by the D.C. Council earlier this year, but block the full legalization measure that voters approved by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin last month.

Marijuana reform advocates say, however, that that’s no real deal at all, since the decriminalization policy that Democrats think they’re protecting has already been enacted and doesn’t cost any money to enforce, so it wouldn’t be even possible for Congress to use the appropriations process to obstruct it at this point.

“Decriminalization is already in effect, so it’s hard to see from a legal perspective how it could get rolled back. The real prize is the legalization measure that D.C. voters passed and the tax and regulate bill that the Council is considering,” said Aaron Houston, a longtime marijuana reform advocate in D.C. who serves as a political strategist for Ghost Group/Weedmaps. “It’s shameful that Democrats would even consider helping Republicans undermine D.C. home rule, and it’s very disappointing that their misunderstanding of the law has led them to believe they’re getting some concession as part of a ‘deal’ that actually just amounts to a few outlier Republicans getting everything they possibly can in this bill to impede the District’s marijuana reforms.” (Disclosure: Weedmaps owns and operates Marijuana.com.)

Some Republicans have been working for months to block marijuana reforms in the District. This summer Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) successfully pushed to include such language into the House-passed version of a narrower spending bill covering D.C. operations, but it faced opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate. After negotiations on that bill and other appropriations legislation covering various federal departments broke down amidst broader partisan disagreements, the threat of a looming shutdown forced congressional leaders to the bargaining table, resulting in the new omnibus spending measure expected to be released today.

It is unclear whether the bill has the votes to pass, or whether President Obama will sign it into law. In addition to disagreements that are likely to arise about other provisions related to immigration, environmental regulations and insurance, the news about the marijuana legalization block being included could be a sticking point for some.

In July, following the passage of House legislation containing the Harris language, the administration threatened a veto, saying the president “strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule.”

And even though marijuana reform currently tends to get more support from Democratic elected officials than Republican ones, it isn’t strictly a partisan issue. This summer, 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in voting to pass a House amendment to stop federal agencies from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. Amendments to allow industrial hemp cultivation and accommodate access to banking services for state-legal marijuana businesses also passed with similar bipartisan margins this year.

Marijuana.com will continue to follow the news on Capitol Hill and bring you developments as they occur.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

22 Comments

  1. Congress is doing it’s just, being a completely useless piece of crap most of the time, this is the other half of the job, when it’s not being a completely useless piece of crap it’s ruining this country outright. Yay for the land of the free and bought off by corporations and corrupt politicians.

  2. I vote that everybody blocks the driveways of congress and refuses to let them in/out of their house until they agree to quit their jobs. <_<

  3. What was passed was simply a change of policy that requires no money to implement. All they have to do is stop arresting people for weed and stop confiscating it. No funding required!

  4. Man I’m glad for all of the other states. I’m glad they are doing so well but I want to know what about the fight in Mississippi. I’m just a poor man who can not afford to give a large amount of money. But I know that is there is a potion in the state that needs 110,000 people to sign and yet we hear not a word. This would go a long way in helping or state

      • What this has to do with this issue is how almost every Republican lawmaker in the House has cried foul over the will of the voters not being respected when it comes to same-sex marriage–clearly something they support. Now, because it’s something they don’t support, they can’t even concern themselves with the will of nearly 70% of the voters in the District. That’s called hypocrisy, and no one does it better than Republicans (who also, by the way, make all these claims about supporting states’ rights and limited government intrusion, etc., but for some reason on this topic also can’t be bothered with their traditional positions.)

  5. All of you people who use the foul language and lame name calling need to think about how that looks. I know you could give a sh*t less, but hey, this is not the kind of thing we need representing our cause. You are doing no good, when you present this low mentality kind of commenting, as the people who are in charge don’t feel none to friendly after being told to go f*ck themselves. We need to behave with a bit more brains and patience. This movement is going very slowly, yes, but it won’t go any faster with you all acting like children. I want legalization for ALL, and think this medical/recreational separation is a bunch of hooey. Legal should MEAN legal, no matter what it will be FOR. You want to be taken seriously? Grow up and you may find it helps your own cause along with the bigger picture, of what we are fighting for.

  6. Sensible advocate on

    By making it legal to have and cultivate but forbidding a regulated marketplace for distribution will just give organized crime more incentive to deal on the streets. More customers are legal now but there is no competition from regulated storefronts.

    Unlike the dealer on the street, storefront businesses are checking ID, providing accurate and useful product guidance, helping people avoid negative consequences, trying to build clientele by being good neighbors, and paying social security and benefits for employees.

    • Rothers Langley on

      the voting is democracy. the problem is the dogma. of religion and power. Please step back turn around and see the history

  7. do as I say not as I do- fuck our corrupt political system- I hope Satan
    roasts all of you. Go suck the cocks of all the lobbyists lining your
    pockets so you can retire wealthy, serve your own interests and leave
    pot alone.

  8. Rothers Langley on

    HEY PEOPLE.. Use your pen.. vote them out… we are the people who run this country.. not congress.. VOTE>>>>VOTE>>>>VOTE

    • Voting does nothing to help this situation, especially when people keep re-electing the same useless politicians who continue doing business as usual. Especially when it’s US who are given the business.

  9. James Heitkemper on

    The issue shouldn’t be a congressional issue at all but since these super criminals got involved I like the move. Anyone can grow 3 plants and 2 ounces are legal. Sales are illegal. Very smart since it can’t be regulated anyway. Weed is free. No one should get rich. Share with your friends. The same policy is in effect in India. Weed has no monetary value there. People just smoke if they want to. If you want money sell the indoor grow equipment.

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