President Barack Obama may have pulled a fast one on the congressional Republicans that are trying to block marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia. President Obama did this by simply adding the word “federal” to his budget proposal. The addition of the word would allow the city government to move ahead with local laws regulating and taxing recreational marijuana.
“It is very much consistent with the administration’s stance that marijuana policy is a state’s rights issue and his statements in support of D.C. being able determine its local laws,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance and vice chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign.
Eleanor Holmes Norton said, “Obama’s budget proposal demonstrated his support for D.C. to spend its local funds as it chooses and without politically motivated congressional interference.”
Congress trying to block a voter approved initiative
Congress tried to block the implementation of a voter approved initiative that legalized up to two ounces of recreational marijuana for personal use and up to six marijuana plants for home cultivation.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) inserted a provision into the federal spending bill passed by Congress in December that challenged D.C.’s ability to enact marijuana laws and aimed to block the city from spending funds to legalize or regulate the sale of marijuana.
Due to Obama adding “federal” to his budget, the president forbids “federal funds” from being used to enact any “law, rule, or regulation to legalize” marijuana. This mean that the city is allowed to use local funds to implement pot laws.
Legalization in D.C is still not likely
Many members of congress (primarily Democrats) support the voter approved initiative to legalize marijuana in D.C. The District’s Council Chairman Phil Mendelson submitted the new marijuana legalization initiative to Congress in January, ignoring the GOP effort to block the measure.
Technical420 does not expect to see recreational marijuana legal in D.C anytime soon because the U.S. Constitution gives Congress final say over the District’s laws. Congress has 30 days to review the D.C. Council legalization. Without congressional action, the measure automatically becomes law.