On Monday the D.C. Council was forced to shy away from their original plans for a hearing on regulating marijuana sales to avoid legal concerns raised by the city’s attorney general.
Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine alerted council members that holding a hearing on the proposal would violate the ban on spending money to enact legislation that lessens drug laws in the District. Improper action could leave officials and staff jail time or up to $5,000 in fines. Council members created a loophole around the infraction holding an informal round table discussion to including dozens of witnesses on Monday to testify on the issue.
“The elephant in the room is Congress,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. “To the extent that there is some question about what we are doing, it’s Congress that is creating this problem, and we are doing our best to understand and to do what we can.”
Even though initiative 71, passed by 70 percent of D.C. voters, does not set up a any plans for the sale and taxation of marijuana, Congress passed a spending bill in December that blocks the District from spending any money, federal, or local tax dollars to enact legislation that would legalize or reduce penalties associated with Marijuana or any other Schedule 1 drug. The point of all the controversy is that Initiative 71 was enacted far before any sort of bills regulating spending were put into effect so the peoples voice and vote means more, This is a perfect example of the District of Columbia being misrepresented and this is reflected by the peoples right to vote being overshadowed by the fact that they live in the nation’s capital where laws are created in the first place. Luckily the round table meeting was successful in taking steps towards making recreational pot use a reality in Washington D.C., with the careful draft of a letter that has been sent to the respective officials blocking the movement, all we can do is wait.
“The issue here is not whether Initiative 71, which was, in our view, enacted before the 2015 Appropriations Act became effective, but, rather, whether the hearing on this bill — which was not enacted by the time the rider took effect — would violate the rider. We believe it would,” Mr. Racine wrote in the letter. “Any such hearings, from my view, would violate federal civil and criminal code provisions.”