Just when you think you've heard it all in this industry, there are reports all over about Congress looking to block the historic vote in DC to legalize Marijuana. We need to send a strong message to our elected officials that we expect them to honor our wishes or be ready to leave office during the election!
Here is the article from Marjiuana.com
After reports this morning that Congressional leaders would move to block Washington. D.C.'s voter-approved legal marijuana measure from taking effect, Capitol Hill sources are now saying that a broad spending bill expected to be released today will allow Initiative 71’s legalization of possession and cultivation to be enacted but will include language exercising the federal government's power to block the District of Columbia from using its own local money to implement further legislation to tax and regulate the sales of marijuana.
The initiative was approved by voters last month by a strong 70 percent to 30 percent margin.
Some Republicans have been working for months to block marijuana reforms in the District. This summer Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) pushed to prevent the city from enacting the marijuana possession decriminalization measure passed by the District Council earlier this year. He successfully included such language in the House-passed version of a narrower spending bill covering D.C. operations, but that effort faced opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and negotiations on that bill and other appropriations legislation covering various federal departments broke down amidst broader partisan disagreements. The decriminalization law took effect in July, before Congress could complete work on any funding bills.
Now, the threat of a looming shutdown has forced congressional leaders to the bargaining table, resulting in the new omnibus spending measure expected to be released today.
Harris and others in recent weeks have sought to block the legalization voter initiative that passed in November. Sources are now reporting that while that effort has failed, they did succeed in inserting language that prevents the District Council from moving forward with plans to approve more comprehensive legislation that would add a regulated system of marijuana sales on top of the voter-approved legalization of possession and cultivation.
"The whole idea for Initiative 71 was that it was the first step to taking marijuana out of the illicit market," Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana.com in an email. "We ran the campaign under the auspices of racial justice and we felt we had a unique opportunity to restore the communities most harmed by the war on drugs through the tax and regulate system, and to set a model for what marijuana legalization in a racial justice context looks like. The actions by Congress have prevented us from doing that."
It is unclear whether the broad spending 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 provisions could be a sticking point for some. Whereas strong opponents like Harris may feel that the block isn’t strong enough, supporters of District autonomy may be unwilling to vote for something that stops the city from regulating marijuana how it sees fit.
In July, following the passage of House legislation containing Harris’s anti-decriminalization 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."
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.