In a surprise move, DC lawmakers moved ahead with passing legislation to make marijuana legal -- despite sanctions from Congress. The new initiative makes cannabis legal to possess without breaking municipal laws.
In a shocking move – and that’s putting it bluntly (no pun intended) – city lawmakers in the District of Columbia pass legislation that makes possession of cannabis legal. Yes, the D.C. marijuana/pot ban has been lifted, but with caveats. However, according to a report out Thursday by WTSP, a nasty battle between Congress and the city’s mayor is gearing up over the passage of Initiative 71.
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In a twist of irony, considering the setting where the landmark move to legalize cannabis took place, the marijuana law took place Thursday in wake of a letter from Congressional leaders from an oversight committee to stand down.
However, Mayor Muriel Bowser stood defiant and moved forth with the implementation of the new cannabis law in D.C., as evidenced from a press conference the day before the act went into effect.
"Our government is prepared to implement and enforce initiative 71 in the District of Columbia," Bowser said.
The legalization of pot in Washington was not a frivolous move or measure designed to force the hands of federal agencies steeped in partisan politics. The mayor had the city’s residents on his side. Back in November, residents voted to pass a measure that would ban the criminalization of pot possession in the D.C.
As stipulated, Initiative 71 says a person, 21 or older, is allowed to have cannabis in their possession as long as it does not exceed two ounces on private property. Additionally, language contained within says no more than once ounce of pot can be exchanged between persons as long as “money, goods or services” are not exchanged.
Congress pushed back on the move, which is supported by the city’s police chief and council members, on the grounds that federal funds were used in the campaign and passage of the initiative. Moreover, members from the House of Representatives say Congress, not local lawmakers, have the power to regulate all laws pertaining to marijuana/cannabis legalization.
A letter from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reminded the mayor that, under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has broad powers to legislate all laws pertaining to the District of Columbia. Additionally, the Congress threatened jail time and fines should the cannabis laws – in support of legalization – go forward.