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In a $1.1 trillion spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee successfully attached a rider preventing the District from using any funds to legalize marijuana. But advocates and city officials say that the law was already enacted when it was voted in November and that Congress' rider wasn't valid since the law was already enacted. The only thing that can prevent it, advocates say, is an official Resolution of Disapproval introduced and passed by Congress before the 30-day review period is up. With less than 24 hours to go, the likelihood of that happening is slim.
But Chaffetz and Meadows' letter falls back on the rider's language, asserting that it would be unlawful for Bowser to carry out Initiative 71. Furthermore, the letter warns that she could be arrested if she does carry it out. “If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” the letter reads.
“Looking at the Constitution, Washington, D.C. is different. They are not a state and we have a role to play and the Congress passed this,” said Chaffetz, whose committee oversees the District of Columbia. “I respect the people who live here and most everything passes through without a problem. But the idea that this is going to be a haven for pot smoking, I can’t support that.”
But that’s where any comparisons end. Unlike the states, D.C. will have very few regulations beyond those basic rules mentioned. That’s because Congress in December denied it the funds to regulate the industry, under the assumption that doing so would stop legalization dead in its tracks. The Post’s Aaron C. Davis and Peter Hermann explain:
Instead of writing regulations governing how the drug would be bought, sold, tracked and taxed — a process that took more than a year in Colorado and Washington state — the District was quickly blocked from doing so by Congress. The city’s attorney general advised officials that even talking about how to allow pot sales could result in jail time for them.
D.C. officials contend that all Congress did was stop them from regulating legalization beyond what voters approved in November.
Bowser, though, brushed Chaffetz and Meadows back on Wednesday, saying they should worry about bigger problems -- like funding the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to shut down at week's end if Congress doesn't act.
And she took a shot at Republicans who have suggested she could wind up in jail for breaking federal law -- even though Congress has no powers to prosecute her.
"A lot of reasonable people have a different view of this issue. ... I have a lot of things to do here in the District of Columbia, and me being in jail wouldn't be a good thing," she said.