Voters in Washington D.C. may have approved the legalization of limited amounts of pot for adults 21 and up earlier this month, but the U.S. Congress will have the final say. According to D.C. law, any new legislation Congress can either approve or reject new legislation in within 60 days.
The bill would also become law if no action is taken in that time – and that’s exactly what some lawmakers want to see happen.
Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton a Democrat representing D.C. joined Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. yesterday at a press conference to urge Congress to allow the Initiative 71 to become law.
There have been several threats to derail the legislation. Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, says he plans to attach a rider to another, easily-passable bill that will prevent D.C. from legalizing marijuana.
Polis says that Harris’s efforts won’t work. Polis says fellow lawmakers won’t go for limiting the power of D.C. voters.
“I think we can work together to muster a bipartisan majority to avert any backdoor mechanisms to prevent the will of the D.C. voters from being implemented,” Polis said at the press conference.
Holmes Norton joined D.C. mayor Vincent Gray in urging Congress to respect the will of voters, who passed Initiative 71 with 68 percent approval.
“I ask the House and Senate to respect the D.C. marijuana legalization initiative that comes straight from the votes of two-thirds of the people of my district,” Holmes Norton said.
Rohrabacher, who has been outspoken on his support for marijuana law reform at the state level, urged Republicans to get their heads out of the sand at the press conference yesterday.
“My message to my fellow Republicans is: Wake up and see where the American people are, but also see what the fundamental principles are in this debate. The fundamental principles are individual liberty, which Republicans have always talked about, limited government, which Republicans have always talked about, the doctor-patient relationship, which of course we’ve been stressing a lot about lately, and of course states’ rights and the 10th Amendment,” he said, noting that he had the support of at least 50 other lawmakers for the D.C. bill. “It is counterproductive to the welfare of the people of this country to have our limited resources … going to put in jail someone who’s smoking a weed in their backyard or something like that.”