WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

D.C. Council Transmits Marijuana Initiative To Congress, Defying Republicans

A D.C. Council official on Tuesday quietly transmitted to Congress a measure that would legalize the possession of marijuana, setting off a 30-day congressional review period and defying Republicans to stop the city from implementing the measure.

A Council staffer delivered Initiative 71, which legalizes the possession of up to two ounces and home cultivation of up to six plants, to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as president of the U.S. Senate. The initiative was approved by 70 percent of D.C. voters on Nov. 4.

The transmittal kicks off the traditional 30-day congressional review period that all D.C. laws go through before taking effect. If no disapproval resolution is passed within those 30 days — which are counted on those days when either the House or Senate is in session — the initiative will be considered approved by Congress. The Council has set that date as Feb. 26.

Last year, a bill dropping criminal penalties for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in D.C. made it through Congress unscathed, despite an attempt by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to block it through a spending bill.

But more than the usual transmittal, this one may signal the start of a broader battle between Republicans and D.C. officials over local control and congressional power. That's because many Republicans insist that they blocked Initiative 71 in December, when a spending bill was passed that included language forbidding the city from spending any money to enact laws decreasing penalties for the possession, use or sale of marijuana.

D.C. officials say that the budget rider does not affect Initiative 71 because it is "self-executing" — it was considered enacted upon approval by D.C. voters. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Attorney General Karl Racine and Mayor Muriel Bowser have taken this position, largely to the chagrin of Republicans like Harris, who say that the initiative is only formally enacted after the congressional review period concludes.

Harris' office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Last week, Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) re-introduced a bill that would allow the sale of marijuana in retail outlets, a move he admitted was made in part to challenge the congressional prohibition passed in December.

"Enough is enough. We need to move forward whether Congress said that we should or shouldn’t, and do right by the people of D.C.," he said.


Remembering Juan Gabriel With NPR's Felix Contreras, Adrian Florido And Eyder Peralta

Join Code Switch and Alt-Latino today at 3pm EST for a Facebook Live chat about the late, great Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel.

A Chocolate Pill? Scientists To Test Whether Cocoa Extract Boosts Health

Chocolate lovers may agree cocoa is the food of the gods, but how strong is the evidence that it boosts heart health? Researchers are recruiting for a new study aimed at answering this question.

Huma Abedin To Separate From Anthony Weiner After New Sexting Allegations

The longtime Hillary Clinton adviser said she made the decision "after long and painful consideration and work on my marriage."
WAMU 88.5

How Many Times Were You Late? Metro Is Keeping Track Of It Just For You

If you log into your SmarTrip account, you'll notice that Metro has started providing individualized trip analysis. It's called MyTripTime, and it measures the time from when you tap in, to when you tap out.

Leave a Comment

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