Washington D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved marijuana legalization on Election Day 2014. However, that hasn’t stopped members of Congress from trying to block implementation of the successful initiative. The current spending bill, which hasn’t been approved yet by Congress, has language in it that could essentially nullify the will of the voters in D.C.. For obvious reasons, this is unacceptable, and has resulted in a lot of protest from the marijuana community. Yesterday Adam Eidinger and other prominent marijuana activists staged a sit-in at Harry Reid’s office, demanding that he meet with them to hear them out. Per the DCist:
Advocates for both the statehood and legal marijuana causes began a sit-in at Sen. Harry Reid’s office Wednesday afternoon to demand the outgoing Majority Leader offer an amendment to strip a Congressional spending bill of riders targeted at the District.
These riders include a provision that would apparently block D.C. from implementing a voter-approved initiative to legalize marijuana. The full extent of the rider’s effect — would it completely block legal marijuana, or just the ability to tax and regulate it? — is still being discussed by D.C. leaders. (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton interprets the rider to prevent any future marijuana laws or regulation, but contends Initiative 71 is already an enacted law.) But any attempt by Congress to use its power over D.C. to overturn the will of local voters, the advocates say, is an unacceptable attack.
I followed this story on Twitter all day yesterday while sitting in my cubicle at work, and it sounded like at first Harry Reid’s office refused to meet with the activists, then allowed them to enter Harry Reid’s office to talk to a staff member. From what I can tell from the tweets, the staff member told the advocates that the language in the spending bill was a ‘done deal,’ but that the entire bill was not guaranteed to pass. This has definitely been the ‘story to watch’ this week. If the bill passes as is, it will be a scary battle to see how marijuana legalization is implemented in Washington D.C., if it’s implemented at all.