Fight for pot rights in D.C. splits right down party lines


In January of this year, The Washington Post conducted a poll of Washington D.C. residents which found that 8 in 10 polled said they were in favor of either decriminalization, or straight up legalization, of weed in the nation’s capital.

In March, the City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis possession, knocking the punishment down from a year in jail, to a $25 fine. The District’s medical marijuana program is expanding, and much like in Colorado, none of these things are leading to the reefer madness we’ve been warned about for decades.
But with legalization talk being passed around the tightest circles in the nation’s capital, leave it to local Congressional Republicans to try to halt the inevitable progress of reform.

Last week, the Republicans in the House passed a budget amendment which bans any government spending on loosening marijuana laws. As we know…in politics, no money means no chance.
Taking a page from their own fact-free playbook, they actually banned the funding of efforts to loosen laws on all Schedule I drugs, since it always sounds scarier when you can list them all in a row.
The budget amendment is the work of Rep. Andy Harris (R – MD), and would effectively dry up the well of legalization talk in D.C. It could even jeopardize the decriminalization law passed in March, which is still not fully implemented.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has been very outspoken against Harris’s handiwork ever since the vote went down last week. He, along with the non-profit pro-cannabis group D.C. Vote, say that Harris acted “in wanton disregard” of the will of D.C. voters.
Responding to the mayor’s comments, a spokesman for Harris’s office pulled the “Prick” card and then doubled down with the “What About the Kids?” card, stating, “I only wish some D.C. politicians cared as much about providing a quality education to D.C. students as they do about decriminalizing marijuana.”
Mayor Gray has gone grassroots in his defense of weed, going so far as to urge his city residents to boycott Rep. Harris’s 1st Congressional District, which happens to include the entirety of Maryland’s eastern shoreline.
Kimberly Perry of D.C. Vote, said in a prepared statement, “If you care about D.C. equality, we ask you to not patronize vacation destinations in Rep. Harris’ district. We might not be able to vote in Congress, but we can all vote with our wallets.”
Her group, the mayor, and other activists suggest a trip to Delaware or Virginia, instead. Or, if they do end up in eastern Maryland, D.C residents are being encouraged to spend their time picketing the Congressman’s office, rather than supporting him and his agendas with big tourism dollars over the holiday weekend.
Like a game of Tecmo Bowl, Rep. Harris went back to the only page in the Republican playbook, pulling the same two tired cards as before, blubbering about how city-dwellers “know better” than to boycott his shoreline.
“Spending the weekend on the beautiful, family friendly Eastern Shore is more important than increasing drug use by D.C. teenagers,” read a dickish statement released by his office.
The companion bill yet to be passed by the Senate will likely omit the Harris language from their version, leaving it up to conference committees to meet somewhere in the middle. The result of that compromise between democracy and ignorance will likely take effect on D.C. pot laws this fall.
This is what they do. They just keep moving the goalposts, so that the “center” of the debate still lies somewhere right of Crazytown.
They insist on all legislation containing language regarding Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act – that way they can accuse their political opponents of wanting to push everything from ecstasy, to pot, to peyote to “the kids”.
See how that works? When the “debate” begins with one side having to defend themselves against half-cocked accusations of approving of the selling of weed and/or heroin to “the kids”, it becomes much more beneficial for Republicans to “meet in the middle”.