If the U.S. Congress allows Washington D.C.’s (overwhelmingly) voter-approved marijuana referendum become law, they could be setting up the nation for international sanctions from the United Nations.
That’s the gist of a report from the Congressional Research Services, which notes that unlike states that have passed marijuana laws, Washington D.C. laws have to ultimately be approved by the federal government.
Last week, the Russian U.N. director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, hinted that he would bring action against the U.S. for allowing legal pot laws to go into effect. The new report from the CRS suggests that at least some in our government are taking those threats seriously.
“This line of reasoning suggests that if Initiative 71 is permitted to take effect, this inaction by the federal government may strengthen the Board’s argument that the United States has not fulfilled its commitments under the Single Convention,” the report reads, according to the Washington Times.
The problem facing Congress, however, is that more than two-thirds of D.C. residents approved the measure and the city leaders all support it. City leaders that are tired of Congress meddling in the city, for that matter.
But lawmakers from other states seem to think it’s their business. Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, says he will fight the measure by passing a bill prohibiting the district from loosening their pot laws. Harris issued his threat initially in response to D.C. decriminalizing the possession of pot earlier this year, but has said he’ll use the tactic again to stop Initiative 71, which legalized limited amounts of pot for adults 21 and up. He says even if there is inaction from Congress now and the bill passes into law, Congress will eventually take up the issue and ban it.
But at least a few federal lawmakers are standing up for D.C. Last week a group of bipartisan congressmen (and D.C. city leaders) called a press conference urging their colleagues to respect the will of the voters. Sen. Rand Paul has also joined in, urging his fellow republicans in Congress to listen to voters.