Congresswoman says press got it wrong on DC: legalization of small amounts of marijuana *can* proceed

Norton Disagrees With House Republican Claim that Omnibus Blocks D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Will Offer Amendment at Rules Committee, Today

Dec. 10, 2014

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that, contrary to press reports, it is far from certain that the fiscal year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill blocks the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana, but she called on Democrats, who control the White House and Senate and whose votes will likely be necessary for House passage, to erase any doubt by eliminating all restrictions and uncertainty on D.C.’s marijuana laws.

“The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee says it believes the omnibus blocks D.C. from legalizing marijuana,” Norton said.  “However, based on a plain reading of the bill and principles of statutory interpretation, the District may be able to carry out its marijuana legalization initiative.  The House-passed D.C. marijuana rider, introduced by Representative Andy Harris, and the omnibus D.C. marijuana rider are not identical.  Unlike the Harris rider, the omnibus rider does not block D.C. from ‘carrying out’ enacted marijuana policies.  D.C.’s Initiative 71, it can be argued, was enacted when it was approved overwhelmingly by voters in November and was self-executing – i.e., it did not require enactment of any rules for its implementation.  Therefore, it can be argued that the legalization of small amounts of marijuana can proceed.

“The District of Columbia government and its residents should never be put in the position of uncertainty of any kind about any of their local laws.  To avoid any confusion and to protect the city’s home rule, I will offer an amendment at the Rules Committee today to strike the rider.”

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