washington dc marijuana decriminalization
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

DC Officials Move Forward To Enact Marijuana Legalization

washington dc marijuana decriminalizationBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

District of Columbia city officials this week moved forward with their intentions to implement a voter-approved municipal initiative depenalizing marijuana possession and cultivation offenses.

On Tuesday, city officials confirmed that Initiative 71 was transmitted to Congress for review. Under federal law, all District laws are subject to a 30-day review process by Congress, during which time members may take action to halt the law’s implementation.

Speaking to Roll Call this week, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said that language previously adopted by Congress in a December 2014 spending bill already prohibits DC officials from implementing I-71 and, thus, no further action by Congress is necessary. However, several District officials – including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson – said that the federal provision in question in no way blocks city officials from enacting the new law.

“The District’s examination agrees with our analysis that the initiative was enacted when voters approved it and will take effect at the end of the 30-day congressional review period,” Del. Norton said in a statement.

Chairman Mendelson agreed, saying, “I happen to believe that the initiative was enacted so I think there’s no question that after the 30-day review it will be law.”

The District of Columbia Attorney General’s office has not yet commented in regard to how the District will respond if Congress does not address the initiative during the review process, Roll Call reported.

In November, 70 percent of District voters approved I-71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants.

Separate DC municipal legislation – ‘The Marijuana Legalization and regulation Act’ – which seeks to regulate commercial cannabis production and retail sales, is also pending before the Council. If enacted, this legislation would also go before lawmakers for Congressional review and likely would force a federal challenge.

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  • Isn’t Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) considered part of the Libertarian wing of the GOP?

    With Libertarians like that, who needs trolls?

    • He is TEA Party – not one of the 49. In fact it looks like he didn’t vote on the amendment.

      Rohrabacher of California Amendment No. 25

      http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll258.xml

      • “Jason Chaffetz is a Libertarian-Leaning Conservative.”

        http://www.ontheissues.org/house/Jason_Chaffetz.htm

        • I looked at that. Where does it say he is a libertarian? Ah the Nolan Chart. Puts him square in the middle of the conservative block. If he was libertarian he would be in the top quadrant. Nice try though. And he was not one of the 49. So I got you there too.

          BTW I looked at several more and he was the only one with a Nolan Chart.

          • Well, he’s no anarchist… but he is an ally. Sometimes. And what it says is that he is a libertarian “leaning” Republican.

            He is not “square in the middle of the conservative block.

            And what I said was “wing.” Is he part of the libertarian “wing.” There are two wings in this analysis. Authoritarian Republicans and Libertarian Republicans. He is more libertarian than authoritarian.

            http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/103482/jason-chaffetz/101/marijuana-legalization#.VLvxRkejNJw

            > July 16, 2014H Amdt 1086 Prohibits States from Penalizing a Bank for Providing Financial Services to Marijuana BusinessesAmendment Adopted – House
            (231 – 192) Yea

            > May 30, 2014H Amdt 748 Prohibits Federal Agencies from Preventing States from Authorizing the Use of Medical MarijuanaAmendment Adopted – House
            (219 – 189) Did Not Vote

            So, he didn’t vote against us on 748 but he voted with us on 1086. Occasionally, a Republican will actually be consistent on state’s rights. They are the exceptions.

            “So I got you there too”

            You haven’t gotten me anywhere. But if it makes you feel better, tell yourself whatever you want. It’s still a free country. Despite what all the wingnuts said would happen if Obama got elected.

          • Well that is their opinion. My opinion as a former long time member of the Libertarian Party is that he is no libertarian nor part of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.

            Just as I’m not a liberal because I support an end to Prohibition. But I have many liberal allies on the subject.

        • To further explain to be libertarian means to be liberal on social issues and conservative on spending issues. Small government. And yeah. Most Republicans do not believe in small government.

          • You don’t need to explain what libertarianism is to me. Some libertarians are conservative on social issues, and others are liberal on them. And, believe it or not, some of them understand the necessity of a good safety net, making them less conservative on economic issues than you think. The distinction is often thought of as left libertarian and right libertarian. Just as there are left authoritarians (Stalin) and right authoritarians (Hitler).

            Further, definitions of small government differ. I would argue that government that gets involved in medical decisions (abortion or medicinal weed), or marriage decisions, or free speech issues, or civil liberties like the fourth amendment, is big government. So, I bet I could find large chunks of your 49 true Scotsmen, er, Libertarian Republicans, who are all for men with guns forcing women to give birth, for example.

            On the whole, I would argue that Progressive Democrats are more libertarian on these issues of personal freedoms than any Republican. Especially on choice.

  • Johnny Bloomington

    Congress will sue DC after it becomes law.

    • MrPC

      Maybe, but it’s not certain they would win. Then what?

  • ZZardozz

    But the election was in November and it is past the 30 days. I want to know what the feds are going to do to force the DC cops to arrest users when they don’t want to. They will have to police it all themselves. The only thing Congress can do is stop them from going further, which would require them to spend money, but to simply stop arresting people costs nothing.

  • Cali Melfonix

    Andy Harris is the Md rep who wants to fight what “WE THE PEOPLE ” voted for. He is in Md. He lost my vote as a Marylander. Movin to DC in April.

  • Linda

    Harris is a dumb ass! He is concerned for the children if legalization happens, when in actuality kids have an easier time getting pot from a black market dealer versus a government regulated store.