House Bill Aims To Keep D.C. Sales of Marijuana Illegal
Photo: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A House spending bill introduced Wednesday would block the District of Columbia from using any money “to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties” for possession of marijuana — a move that would keep the drug quasi-legal in the city.
Voters approved a ballot initiative in 2014 that legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in the District, however without legislative action by local lawmakers it will remain illegal to buy or sell the drug.
The congressional rider will continue to block city leaders from pursuing legislation to regulate the sale and taxation of marijuana. A similar provision was included in a congressional spending plan adopted in December.
Marijuana policy experts interpreted the fact the rider did not include more restrictive language as a sign Republican leaders were not interested in engaging in a larger fight over marijuana.
“I’m pleasantly surprised that the rider that they did include was not more restrictive,” said Dan Riffle, director of Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “I fully expected them to include tougher language explicitly naming the law in the language of the rider.”
Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, is holding out hope that the rider could be removed from the budget.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, noted that she was gearing up to fight the inclusion of the marijuana rider, as well as others that continue to block the city from using local funds to pay for abortions for low-income women.
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