Hill Review Will Delay D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Until Summer | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Hill Review Will Delay D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Until Summer

The D.C. Council has passed a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and Mayor Vincent Gray has said he will sign it, but it'll still be some time before the measure actually takes effect.

Like any other law passed by the Council, Congress will have a chance to review — and potentially reject — the bill. While most bills get a 30-day congressional review, changes to the city's criminal code increase the review to 60 days.

According to the office of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, those 60 days only count if either the House or Senate are in session, effectively stretching the review period into the late summer. If the bill were to be transmitted to Congress next week, the earliest it could become law would be June, says the D.C. Council's general counsel.

That date could be pushed depending on when Gray signs the bill and when it is formally transmitted to Congress.

In January, Norton introduced a bill scrapping the congressional review of D.C. bills, which was written into the city's Home Rule Charter when it was passed four decades ago.

"The congressional review process for D.C. bills provides no benefit to Congress, but imposes substantial costs (in time and money) on the District," she said.

President Obama included language that would eliminate the review period in his 2015 budget, but it remains uncertain whether it will make it through the Republican-dominated House.

Only three D.C. bills have ever been disapproved by the House, but in comments to the Associated Press, Speaker of the House John Boehner offered no hint as to whether Republicans would act to block marijuana decriminalization in D.C.

"I really haven't seen what the D.C. Council did, but I'm sure we'll look at it," he said.

In the meantime, pro-marijuana activists are pressing Gray for a moratorium on arrests while Congress reviews the bill.

“Mayor Gray should issue a moratorium on arrests for the possession of marijuana while the legislation is under congressional review. How many more D.C. residents need to be arrested while we wait for Congress?” said Adam Eidinger, who is separately pushing a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana.

Note: An original version of this story said that the congressional review could stretch into September, but a new legal analysis of the wording of the Home Rule Charter puts the likely date of implementation in June, though that could be pushed into July depending on when Congress gets the bill.

NPR

As Publishing Industry Courts China, Authors Speak Out Against Censorship

Chinese writers and publishers are being celebrated this week at BookExpo America — the industry's largest trade event in North America. Free speech advocates are supporting silenced Chinese writers.
NPR

Cod Comeback: How The North Sea Fishery Bounced Back From The Brink

A decade ago, fishermen trying to catch North Sea cod were coming up empty. Now, thanks to strict fishing rules put in place to halt the decline, this fish tale looks headed for a happy ending.
WAMU 88.5

D.C. Immigrants Remain In Shadows While Reform Hits Roadblock

The administration's appeal to lift an injunction against his executive actions on immigration reform was denied. Consequently tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the metro D.C. area will continue to live in the shadows.
NPR

FCC Chairman Wants To Help Low Income Americans Afford Broadband

Tom Wheeler proposes to reboot the Lifeline phone-access program. The plan recognizes that everyone needs to study, apply for jobs and make social connections online.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.