Clinton Administration Calls Amendment Nixing D.C. Medical Marijuana Vote "Sensible"

Thursday, 10 December 1998

The Department of Justice filed legal papers last week supporting a Congressional amendment that forbids the D.C. government from certifying the results of November's election on medical marijuana. Initiative sponsors and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are challenging the constitutionality of the amendment in federal court.

"This motion places the Clinton Administration clearly on the side of thwarting democracy," announced NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. "They are supporting efforts to stifle the voice of the more than one hundred thousand D.C. residents who voted to legalize medical marijuana in the District of Columbia."

The amendment in question, introduced by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and attached to the District's appropriations bill, mandates the D.C. government to withhold funds for any initiative that minimizes marijuana penalties. Officials estimate that certifying the results would cost the city $1.64.

A legal brief filed by the Justice Department said "[Congress] has sensibly prohibited the use of public funds to conduct an election on Initiative 59," the District's medical marijuana proposal. Exit polls indicate that 69 percent of D.C. voters approved the measure.

A federal judge will rule on the issue later this month. Several area groups, including the D.C. chapter of the League of Women Voters, the D.C. Statehood Party, the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, and the D.C. Chapter of the Republican National African-American Council filed court papers siding with the ACLU.

If the judge orders city officials to tabulate and certify the vote results, Congress then has 30 days to accept or veto the new law.

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Wayne Turner of ACT-UP @ (202) 547-9404.