Rider in Federal Omnibus Intends to Block DC Legalization Vote

A rider was included in the final version of the House omnibus appropriations bill with the intent blocking the implementation of Washington, DC’s 2014 marijuana legalization initiative.

As written, the rider seeks to restrict the District from utilizing federal or local funds to “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.” A summary of the provision posted on the House Appropriations Committee website acknowledges that the language is intended to prevent any funds from being used to “implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.”

Washington DC’s Initiative 71 was approved by over 70 percent of District voters in November. The initiative seeks to legalize the adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivation of three mature and three immature plants.

“This rider is an affront to the concept of democracy,” commented NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Seven out of ten voters in Washington, DC cast their ballot in favor of ending prohibition and legalizing the adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, this attempt by members of Congress to flout the will of the people is a gross injustice to these voters and to the democratic system.”

The House will vote on the final version of the omnibus bill in the next couple days and then it must be approved by the Senate. This rider has no impact on the District’s current decriminalization or medicinal marijuana policies. NORML will keep you updated as the situation develops and what precisely this means for legalization in the nation’s capital.

Further coverage regarding this rider and its potential impact on the District is available from the Washington Post, Roll Call, and CNN.

71 thoughts

  1. According to MSN News the law as passed will be good to go but the opening of despencreies will be prohibited. has any one else heard anything any different? also doesn’t it have to pass the house now or is this the final word?

  2. No funds need to be used to stop arresting people.

    Until we treat cannabis like tomatoes people will still get killed over it. Eric Garner.

  3. “This rider is an affront to the concept of democracy,” commented NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Seven out of ten voters in Washington, DC cast their ballot in favor of ending prohibition and legalizing the adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, this attempt by members of Congress to flout the will of the people is a gross injustice to these voters and to the democratic system.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. They said that if presdent bloke there bill they will shut the goverment down. Who are this repulicans ? This is aganst american and what it stand for. If this was the 1800 they would have hull this repulicans out side and shoot them. I belive it would be just. We cant have these scum in congres

  5. It costs no monies of any sort, to ‘implement’ I71 – as long as President Obama and his neighbors use their own monies, for their indoor gardening, and, simply ‘gift’ ounces, this rider leaves I71 fully intact.

  6. Game on! “Legal” or “not Legal” is just information, which is free. It’s voter discrimination to charge people to vote.

  7. I have been scouring the news sites all week for details on this bill, and specifically any DC-related riders. I have to confess I am extremely frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process. Even now we don’t know if the new text actually blocks Initiative 71 or if it merely blocks follow-on regulation to set up a system for taxing and regulating sales. But I am pretty sure of this much: if D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson submits the initiative to Congress right now, before the omnibus bill is ratified and takes effect, then it will be too late for Congress to stop it without specifically voting on a resolution to block the law (which would then have to be approved by the President).

  8. Anyone out there care to defend the Republicans?

    I think not! Their prohibitionist ways could not be much more clear! Oh, I know there are exceptions. A few (very few) actually understand the damage of prohibition. Most of them still cling to their idiotic anti-freedom ways.

  9. repiglicans blocked it, and the spineless dems agreed. the measure wasn’t passed. dc voters screwed again.

    from the washington post article:
    “If reports are true, members of Congress from both parties bargained away the rights of the people of the District of Columbia and in doing so compromised the core democratic values of the United States,” she said in a statement. Perry urged members of Congress to “vote against this attempt to undermine democracy.”

  10. Wow, I really thought the GOP would listen to people. But those people in DC are black and no, the GOP does not care about black people. In fact, they seem to think if a black person says “A”, it is their job to say, “B is actually correct! Oh and you’re going to jail.”

    The GOP is about as racist as you can get without going to a Klan or Nation of Islam meeting. These people are just pieces of shit.

  11. I have a question. Can’t the President use a line item veto on certain pieces of a bill to get rid of the “stupid” that takes place in the Copngress? If so, then that’s the way it should be done.

    2. I don’t see why you can’t open private clubs with membership fees and distribute it that way.

    I don’t know how it should be done but they should do anything and everything it takes to ignore the congress and proceed according to how the D.C. citizens voted, because the congress is certainly ignoring the wishes and rights of the people who took the time to vote on this issue.

    Its a disgrace how the Congress treats the people of D.C., they are not your guest Mr. Congress its the other way around and you should have some manners and act accordingly. Try coming into my house and tell me how I’m gonna run it and I’d be happy to hand you your hat and show you the door.

    [Editor’s note: U.S. presidents don’t enjoy line item veto powers (some governors have this tool availed to them). Absent the Republican-led Congress not interfering with DC’s affairs in general and there being no tax and regulate regulations in place passed by local politicos, DC residents might be left with ‘pot luck’ gatherings on private property, where cannabis can only be traded and given away, not sold.]

  12. Most of them still cling to their idiotic anti-freedom ways. – Miles

    I think most Republicans ( I’m a Democrat)are clinging to their pocketbooks…filled by “donations” from Big Booze, Big Pharma, Big Private Prisons… all owned by a few Overruling Class Big “Corporations”/Big Company Store Redux.

  13. Republicans have again denied the democratic process. The right to vote means nothing as long as Republicans claim the right to veto election results. I wish the torture story had come out bfore the November elections. Unless this situation changes, our WWII veterans died for nothing rather than the freedom and democracy they believed they were defending. The “Greatest Genertion” would be so ashamed of their Republican children.

  14. Law gone awry…$…?…???

    Big Booze?

    Big Tobacco?

    Big Pharma?

    Big Corporate Prisons?

    Big Donations?

    Big Gordian Knot…Not?

  15. it just says it will not use any funds to implement. The voters voted, it’s law. They can’t arrest you.

  16. Thank you very much NORML, MPP, DPA, LEAP!

    Oh,

    My,

    Gosh.

    I heard there might be a loophole. I wonder, who thought of that first? … I sincerely hope that there turns out to be one, and that it works. If it happens, I’ll be cheered up to see you on tv talking about it, maybe even sharing verbal barbs with a prohibitionist who is pissed that it is the fatal knell in cannabis prohibition, worldwide legalization obstacles will be cleared out of the way.

    I’ll have to find out when this vote is taking place.

    Have the reciprocity agreements ready. You know what I mean. I doubt they’ll outsource it to a low bid company, you know, to the private sector. So …

  17. “2. I don’t see why you can’t open private clubs with membership fees and distribute it that way.”

    Because Pigs will knock down your door and confiscate everything! Then toss you in a Federal Pen, then lie to the jury so you don’t get out. They do not care about the law. Corruption and only Corruption comes first, legal/illegal is for later on, maybe someday when someone gives a shit.

  18. Dusty says, “I just found the text of the bill. It is of course confusing. Here it is:
    ‘SEC. 809.
    (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.
    (b) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.’

    It is not clear to me if the “the funds contained in this Act” include locally collected revenues but it sounds to me like no they do not, in which case there is a loophole.”

    Yeah, I’m not really seeing a loophole. DC is Federally run and the taxes collected go the Federal Government which then puts them under this law… Basically, the local government is now forbade from making common sense regulations for distributing legal marijuana–this law is specfically designed to keep marijuana on the black market.

    It doesn’t get any more transparent! The GOP is procrime! John McCain, one of the few that doesn’t support torture, when they know it does work. But they still support it and it is already illegal… What the Fuck is Wrong with these People?

  19. It doesn’t get any more transparent! The GOP is procrime! John McCain, one of the few that doesn’t support torture, when they know it does *not* work. But they still support it and it is already illegal… What the Fuck is Wrong with these People? They are so short on good ideals.

  20. It is an affront to our democratic process that this rider will effectively strip the District from setting up a regulatory scheme for cannabis. However, all is not lost.

    Initiative 71 still removes both the penalties for possession and “giving away” cannabis. Why not take a page from “Dallas Buyers Club”?

    A private club, which requires a membership fee, could be set up. Club members would be entitled to a certain amount of cannabis depending on their club level membership. This would circumvent the problem of sales of cannabis since the club would be “giving it” away and not run afoul of the law.

    Retail sales would not occur in this scenario and no monies would be spent. This would keep it in compliance with rider on the omnibus bill that Congress is passing.

    Just an idea. The legal wing of NORML could comment further on this idea.

    [Editor’s note: Paying a ‘membership’ fee to break current federal laws is no viable legal defense when the DEA comes a knocking. In the same way that EU countries (like France and Spain) are cracking down on the cannabis social clubs there, organizers of the same in DC face legal jeopardy absent a change of federal laws regarding cannabis.

    Beyond the bizarre DC-Congressional relationship, in general and going into the future of further cannabis legalization measures in [autonomous] states, does there need to be included in the reform measures public places–not private clubs–where adults can legally purchase and imbibe responsibly (i.e., like the Dutch’s so-called ‘coffeeshops’)? Yes…cannabis consumers, like alcohol consumers enjoy company, not necessarily imbibing alone.]

  21. I guess the next course of action would be to plead with our Senators? What is the most appropriate way to take action with the abundant frustration over this unfortunate development?

  22. This is simply outrageous. If you look at how the people’s vote has blatantly been thrown out the window to satisfy the agenda of any supporting officials, it’s sickening as well. Democracy has indeed been served an injustice with such a demoralizing act.

    Ask yourself how twisted things are, when the popular vote for a plant our planet gifted us with that’s enhancing the quality of life for people is utterly discarded because of ulterior motives. Colorado, and Washington are prime examples of how taxing, and regulation of marijuana becomes self funding! Shouldn’t our nations capital lead the way on multiple fronts regarding how our country respects freedom, and the democratic process?

    If you’re like me, you might just feel a little less proud to be American when finding out elected officials of Congress think your vote can be twisted out of your control. Any supporting member of Congress should be thankful there were no “Riders” behind their elective vote, with a not-so-graceful side of “SHAME”.

    My heart goes out to anyone in D.C. who now has to uproot their family in order to get possibly life saving cannabidiol, for epilepsy. At such a edgy time when so many people have lost trust in authorities in the states, it’s sad more trust has likely been lost.

  23. Congress is putting the city in a Catch-22 situation. If they keep arresting people, they’re going to get their pants sued off, and they’re going to lose every case.

    And isn’t it funny how the federal government looks the other way when foreigners commit felonies but slams citizens into prison for smoking? Even Stalin wasn’t that crazy.

  24. By the way, the Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for this. They both agreed on everything in this damn bill.

  25. “This rider is an affront to the concept of democracy,” commented NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Seven out of ten voters in Washington, DC cast their ballot in favor of ending prohibition and legalizing the adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, this attempt by members of Congress to flout the will of the people is a gross injustice to these voters and to the democratic system.”

    My thoughts exactly! It is such a direct and blatant affront to the voters and democratic process! I’m disgusted

  26. Winds up, this is the best thing that ever happened, yet: I-71 is remaining intact, while preventing “Big Pot” commercialization, which deflates our opponants’ #1 arguement. Better, yet – this omnibus prevents the DEA/DOJ from arresting medical users and industrial griwers, where States have legalized same! Nonetheless, now js the time to call Congress, at their DC offices – and support THEIR right to home garden and ‘gift’ ounces! The staff, their neighbors – this is about THEIR own right! Quick, call & support, now: 202-224-3121 (capitol switchboard)

  27. Is this just a funding issue? I live in PA, my donated funds would neither be Federal or local (D.C.). Just start an old-fashioned fundraiser.

  28. Three things:
    1. I’m really pi$$ed they have overthrown a legitimate American vote. I supported #YesOn2 and it makes me realize that even IF Florida got the 60% required, the legislators in Tallahassee would have found some other way to nullify it. Florida does have a history of that sort.
    Americans dumped the kings tea into the harbor for less than this.

    2. Don’t be fooled by the defunding of the DOJ. That was just a “make you feel good” distraction. Congress gets to look good but they know the DOJ will ignore that pesky “no funds for investigating states with LEGAL MMJ operations”. There is already a similar directive (Cole’s) in place which the DOJ summarily ignores. The DOJ will just say “does not apply, because we only bust the ILLEGAL operations in those states”. “Illegal” by their own definition. Who will contradict or investigate them? .. the DOJ?
    It’s all just smoke and mirrors.
    Do not make the mistake of thinking these guys are stupid. They are professional manipulators and they are the world’s best at what they do. Unfortunately, they do what’s in their own interests, not America’s.

    3. Now, if Congress would attach a defunding rider that said “CONGRESS shall not spend money legislating any further meddling in states marijuana polices”, ..then I would be more hopeful.
    ..
    But, that’s not reality, is it.

  29. Cannabis needs to taken out of the Controlled Substances schedule altogether and completely.

    No other action is necessary…unless it involves huge profits for Corporate sponsored pot profiteers?

    I demand my right to grow a plant be recognized by law. Human Rights are not given to Humans or bestowed upon Humans by Governments.

    Governments either recognize or deny Human Rights…give it a think?

    Thinks are still free…I think?

    Cannabis is a herb and should be taxed and regulated exactly as any other beneficial herb…and any rational person knows it.

    Those who don’t… are either intentionally “ignorant” or gullibly brainwashed by absurd neo-reefer madness generated by Capitalists who own potentially competing drugs.

    Tobacco = Disease/Death

    Alcohol = potentially lethal/destructive

    Big Pharma’s Plethora of Pills = side effect may include Death?

    Cannabis = an herb proved safe and effective by thousands of years of co-evolution with Humans…who are Born Free!

    Stand up for your rights…or you will surely find yourself on your subjugated knees.

    Never forget the fact that Human Rights are either recognized or denied…no matter what anyone else desperately wants you to believe.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand” – Frederick Douglass –

  30. Unless this situation changes, our WWII veterans died for nothing rather than the freedom and democracy they believed they were defending. The “Greatest Genertion” would be so ashamed of their Republican children. JohnC

    My Dad flew 60 missions (89th Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group – Grim Reapers) during World War Two…to protect our Country from domination and torture!

  31. Staff members answered only for Reed and McConnel’s office. (All you get from Boehner is “oh say can you see” trumpets on hold and Pelosi goes straight to voicemail… For shame!)

    My talk with “Sam,” staff member for pending Majority Leader Mitch McConnel’s office;

    Sam:senator Mitch McConnel’s office…”
    Me: hello, my name is Julian from Texas and Im calling on behalf of 7 out of 10 voters from the District of Colombia to urge Senator McConnell NOT to vote for the unconstitutional pending amendment to overturn D.C.s marijuana regulation initiative. Republicans are making a BIG mistake placing themselves on the wrong side of history, and American voters of all kinds, including Republicans, are paying close attention to this vote; DROP the RIDER.”
    Sam:” Oookay sir thank you for calling and i will be sure to pass this information on to Senator McConnel…”
    Me: ” Great, and you can thank him for showing the leadership for passing the hemp research amendment… A majority of Americans certainly wont forget his decisions during upcoming elections in 2016 or 2018. And what was your name?”
    Sam: “Sam.”
    Me: “Thank you, Sam, for your attention to this matter. Thousands of people with cancer are counting on your voice.
    Sam:”You’re welcome.”
    Me”Have a good day, Sam.”

    For the record, has anyone been able to get Pelosi to answer the phone?

    At least Harry Reid’s office answered. (I said pretty much the same thing). The way i see it, if Senate Democrats dont block this rider its going to pass. Im sure that Republicans would love to shut the government down over it, but that’s nothing new in Washington… But it would result in protests; military missing their checks for Christmas while Congress takes a holiday? (even D.C. Public schools shut down when the government shuts down).

    If we’re all supposed to believe in State’s rights, why is the Republican controlled House trying to take them away? D.C.’s Representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton doesnt even have a valid vote! But she does have a voice… And its time to use it.

  32. I for one (apparently) am with “Liberty Lives” above. If federal funding is the only arrow in these bigoted idiots’ quiver, why not blunt that with private enterprise just as if it were a PAC? Plenty of things (if not all) get done with PAC money, and the District would certainly be grateful to “git ‘er done” this way!?! Law enforcement would sure appreciate the reduced “criminal” processing!?! What am I missing?

  33. Take note of history! The situation this bill is creating is similar to that of New York from 1923-1933 when the local laws against alcohol were repealed and now effectiuve mechanism to legally distribute alcohol was created. The idea that people are just going to give it away is utopian nonsense. What will happen is what happened to New York in 1923-1933. An unregulated black market will arise with no law enforcement to stop it. The situation in New York created the Five Families crimial organization structure. DC may become a version of what New York City was in the 1923-1933 period with new criminal organizations arising. Be warned!

  34. goes to show us that the republicans will fight legalization for ever and if one gets elected president in 2016 legalization will never happen i say vote all the republicans out of office

  35. The Republican realize they can never win the hearts and minds of folks in DC. They can however trample on the self-determination rights of DC to make a ‘tooth and nail’ statement to drug warriors elsewhere around the country, in other words their base.

  36. I found the following while researching Dr Harris and his interference. There seems to be one of those ‘legalese’ type debates centered around the meaning of the word ‘enacted’. Could be nothing. Could be everything.

    –The final provision in the spending package mirrors an amendment that Harris successfully pushed through the House earlier this year, but there’s one key difference. Harris’ initial amendment would deny funding “to enact or carry out” a law that would legalize the possession, use or distribution of marijuana. But the latest spending bill removed the “carry out” language — the rider says that no funding can be used to “to enact” a legalization law. Pro-legalization advocates argue that the marijuana legalization initiative became enacted after its Election Day approval, and, therefore, the district can implement it without violating the rider.
    Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district’s nonvoting House delegate, said that “based on a plain reading of the bill and principles of statutory interpretation, it is arguable that the rider does not block D.C. from carrying out its marijuana legalization initiative.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/dc-marijuana-republicans-113489.html#ixzz3Lgxl1rl0

  37. Is there any reason for this special status for DC anymore. There may have been in George Washington’s time, but now. It sure seems like Dr Harris and the GOP are abusing any real intent for the special status — certainly so, if they can arbitrarily thwart the will of a super majority of the residents.

  38. Welcome to America the peoples country! Where lies and propaganda can beat facts and science and the will of the voters. Our movement is too nice to politicians. The politicians who voted against the voters should be identified and called out and graded like the NRA does to them. As long as politicians have no political price to pay for going against their voters we will keep getting shut down. Even though the propaganda states that both parties voted on this in a bipartisan way,what we should be asking ourselves is which party wanted this rider included. The GOP! Lets get off our asses and vote the next election. When only 30 % of the voters show up we get this. Both parties have leaders that our good for our cause but the smaller government party that is in our bedrooms dictating our lives is the largest problem..Punish these people next election. We would be better off voting for YOGI BEAR as a write in candidate rather than a poor choice. GET TOUGH ON THE POLITICIANS AND PUNISH THEM AT THE POLES NEXT ELECTION.

  39. I am really hating Andy Harris. He is a complete disgrace to anyone who believes in America – The Land of the Free. America is supposed to be a Democracy Andy, not a place where your will supercedes not only the will of the people but the vote of he people. History will remember you as one of the people who tried to force their facist ways on the American people but failed.

    There is no way you’re going to get re-elected to serve another term in Maryland! You do not represent us!

  40. Why is everyone blaming Republicans when, for six years, Obama has had the power to order the DEA to reschedule marijuana?

    Or as he often does, Obama could simply have ordered the DEA and DOJ to ignore marijuana and demanded that Congress legalize it.

    Then there was the two years when Democrats owned all power.

    Republicans have a lot of blame in Prohibition, but RIGHT NOW it makes no sense to blame them and ignore the Democrats who could end it with the snap of a finger.

    [Editor’s note: When looking to parse out ‘blame’ to policymakers who fail to end cannabis prohibition, pox on all of their houses. However, analytically speaking and based on polling data, Democrats favor cannabis law reforms by almost 25 points over Republicans. Republican governors have vetoed cannabis law reforms, not Democrats. Also, almost all of the state and federal cannabis law reform legislation introduced and championed by Democrats–regrettably in our country’s political duopoly it is a rare thing to find a Republican introducing or co-sponsoring cannabis law reform legislation.

    In the larger national picture, it can be accurately said that, in general, Democrats support cannabis law reforms, and Republicans, in general, oppose them.

    Republican activist and tax opponent Grover Norquist laments that ‘Republicans should own the issue of ending cannabis prohibition, and not cede it to Democrats–who’ll get the political credit and the PAC dollars from the new industry’.

    One thing is for sure, cannabis prohibition can not effectively end in America without bipartisan political support, and for reformers an objective target to hasten these long-needed reforms is: Republicans]

  41. @Admin,
    Thank you for bringing up Norquist. There is a great divide in the Republican party that centers over industrial hemp. The Norquist-Iowa caucus and corn brigade are interested in protecting their corn subsidies. And with Mitch McConnell as leader of the Senate, states like Kentucky can bring hemp laws to the forefront. Its the Koch sponsored Tea Party that will try to oppose legalization to no end, because Koch industries owns timber and petrochemical patents (Dixie, Georgia Pacific, stainmaster carpets and lycra to name a few); patents that would lower in value and compete directly with a domestic hemp industry. (Hempcar.org)
    This is why while McConnell was passing the hemp research amendment earlier this year, Koch industries was content to shut the government down getting rich off of throw-back oil subsidies while they passed a law that caps ANY vegetable or plant (including hemp) for producing ethanol at ten percent of fuel consumption, effectively prohibiting hemp for use of %100 ethanol in the way Henry Ford or Diesel intended. And then of course, there’s the American Chemistry Council, backed by Exxon-Mobile, Chevron and you name it that lobbies to make sure plastics are made from non-renewable petrochemical products instead of cellulosic plastics made from hemp, which grows sustainably well across the United States.
    But perhaps all the different methods of prohibition are in our favor. While prohibitionists are focused on the D.C. Rider, they might miss the state’s rights bill, (which admittedly would look even more stupid for Republicans than attacking the more enlightened city population of D.C.
    And McConnel just cant have it both ways; legalize hemp without legalizing medicinal use of cannabis is an unsustainable policy.
    And meanwhile there’s California. Whose gonna stop this goliath from legalizing medicinal marijuana in 2016 and taking us well over the half way mark of states representing pro marijuana medicinal policies, in direct defiance to schedule 1 of the C.S. Act.
    The way i see it, prohibitionists made their bed; now they have to sleep in it.

  42. I see no reason NOT to primarily blame Republicans. They are the people STILL unabashedly pushing prohibition, as Dr Harris amply demonstrates.

    How in the world do you think Democrats are going to end prohibition with the ‘snap of a finger’? Even if they could, do you think Republicans wouldn’t reinstate prohibition when they’ve regained power. If so, why? If the Republicans gain full control of the Federal government in 2016, reform is dead in the water for years, possibly a decade.

    The Republicans are NOT friends of NORML. There is no reason to pretend otherwise. Republicans will not become friends of NORML as long as they can win by hating us NORML fans and the herb that inspires us. Don’t vote for them; it’s the only way they’ll come around. Appeals to science and reason certainly won’t sway them. It’s been tried.

    (I think the Democrats let the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot with Harris’ latest stubborn antic. Harris is my Representative. He’ll easitly get elected next time, if he wants. NORML can’t stop him. We can make the Republicans pay for their cruel, prohibitionist ways by voting AGAINST them in other political races around the country.)

    The Republicans will not stop, NORML fans, until we make them stop.

    VOTE!

  43. “…regrettably in our country’s political duopoly” – Editor

    Frack or Frick…take your pick?

    Two candidates is one more than one.

    Feel the Freedom!

  44. SEC. 809. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

    (b) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

    So I have read this several times and the first few the two paragraphs sound so similar they seem redundant. But there are important differences and the more I read them the more I believe that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s view of the Act is based on a lot more than wishful thinking. To whit:

    1. 809(a) specifies “[n]one of the Federal funds” while 809(b) just says “None of the funds” contained in the Act.

    2. 809(a) says “used to enact or carry out” while 809(b) says “used to enact”.

    3. 809(b) specifies “for recreational purposes” while 809(a) does not specify which purposes are in scope.

    From #1 one can assume that the bill contains local funds as well as federal but only federal funds apply to 809(a). Basically federal funds cannot be used at all to further the liberalization of cannabis laws in the District.

    Although local funds can be used to enact or carry out cannabis laws that are not for recreational purposes as per (a), as per (b) no District funds can be used to enact recreational cannabis legislation. However local District funds can still be used to carry out recreational cannabis legislation that is already enacted. This would include carrying out the decriminalization bill as well as carrying out Initiative 71. However the District council can not enact additional legislation to establish a tax and regulatory framework for legal sales until the bill expires in September. This may mean new laws will be blocked indefinitely as by then there will be a Republican majority in both of our Houses and they may decide to continue kicking the riders forward year after year.

    Since Initiative 71 was approved by voters I believe Homes Norton is correct to say that the law is enacted. The law must now be submitted to Congress for their review and if they pass a resolution rejecting the law (and if Obama signs it) then according to the US Constitution Initiative 71 will be deemed repealed. So one could convincingly argue (and I believe convince the court) that the remaining work to transmit the bill to Congress and to then implement it should Congress fail to stop it are all part of carrying it out, which can be legally done but only with the District’s local funds.

    I expect that the District’s lawyers have figured this out long ago but we will not hear any more about this until the bill is passed in the Senate. Then at some point the District will submit Initiative 71 as per the rules and Certain Republicans will raise a fuss but it will in fact be too late.

    This interpretation of the bill is in alignment with what some media outlets had reported. It is also the only explanation I can come up with for the two almost identical paragraphs as well as the subtle differences between them.

  45. Congress signed a 4 day extension to the 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. Hightimes reports that although Obama went on record as opposing the Republican-lead block of D.C.’s voter initiative for marijuana legalization, he is likely to sign the bill to keep the government funded.

    Question: Can’t the Senate come up with their own provision and kill the rider? It sucks that governors enjoy line-item vetoes but the President has to go all or nothing. At least Obama is getting vocal about his position on legalization. That should give Republicans a run for their money in 2016.

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