Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Quick Guide to the Legalization of Marijuana in DC





It has been a while since I wrote a political blog so what better time to do one than now. I will try to break down a lot of the political jargon and give my opinion.

DC voters in November voted in what was called Initiative 71 to legalize marijuana in the District of Columbia. Initiative 71 made the use of up to two ounces of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants legal.  When 70% of voters approved this on the November ballot, the DC government then began the process of figuring out how to manage what the voters willed in terms of sales and management. However since all laws in DC are subject to a 30 day review period in congress (only when congress is in session) House Republicans inserted a rider or a budget clause (a provision that can be added to a bill of a completely separate nature) to the omnibus spending bill that would stop the legalization of marijuana  in DC by preventing any federal or DC funds to enact it. The rider however, has a legal loophole. While the DC government cannot regulate the sale of marijuana (which if we did would be breaking federal law since they told us no) the voters decided this not the DC Council or the mayor therefore the law is self-enacting. A few house republicans have basically said, you know what we meant, but legally, DC has a point. Of course, this all means that if someone were to sue, it would ultimately be decided by the courts. some members of congress have threatened to take further legal action against the city but Mayor Bowser is standing firm in upholding what the residents of DC voted for. In order for the Mayor to be responsive to the self-enacting law, she sent out information that explains what DC residents can and cannot do with the marijuana. http://dcist.com/2015/02/heres_how_the_city_will_enforce_mar.php

Again, this is bigger than the use of marijuana. This comes back to DC being subject to the will of congress. This city is growing faster and thriving (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/census-bureau-dc-keeps-growing-albeit-at-slower-pace/2014/12/23/b1e4c904-8acb-11e4-8ff4-fb93129c9c8b_story.html) yet and has the population greater than 3 states however its residents have no vote in congress and not even a presence in the Senate. Most major capital cities have allowed their residents even this privilege but not the great United States.

President Obama released a couple of statements in support of DC and the legalization of marijuana as well as in support of DC budget autonomy (our city budget is also subject to the approval of congress while they can barely balance theirs).

If you read this blog, please call your voting and elected members of congress and ask that they support HR 317 which already has 107 cosponsors. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/317

2 comments:

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...

Great post Keith. I agree with your point of view. Alaska, Colorado, and I think Oregon also have approved recreational use of marijuana. They did so without Congress butting in. Each jurisdiction needs to have the autonomy to enact laws that serve the needs of its citizens, and that includes DC. Regardless of my personal views on the legalization of marijuana (I'm not really in favor of it generally), if the people voted to allow it, then the jurisdiction ought to be allowed to enact it without Congress getting involved. That would be like the people voting for a particular council member and Congress stepping in to say, "no, we don't want that person on your City Council." This is precisely the same thing. The people voted for it and Congress really should stay out of it. It all boils down to statehood. If DC were a state, this wouldn’t even be an issue.