USA: Congress Blocks DC Marijuana Legalization
December has been a month of both victory and defeat for American pot smokers, as a new federal spending bill is approved by congress. The bill has a few marijuana related amendments which both firmly secured the legal use of marijuana, whilst hindering it at the same time.
First the bad news. Just like ripping off a band aid, it is best to get it over and done with. Those in the Republican controlled congress who oppose the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Washington D.C. (which passed with a 70% vote), have placed wording in the new spending bill which prevents the city from spending any money to actually enact the legalisation.
It is an outright dirty move, and one that should outrage anyone who believes in democracy and freedom. For congress to try and block something that passed with a 70% majority is sickening, and quite frankly they should be ashamed. “I kind of always expected the House to do this,” says Adam Eidinger, the chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign - the group responsible for the recently passed initiative. “What I didn’t expect was the Democrats to give up. It’s totally unacceptable.”
What makes this worse is that they could have voted down the initiative, but knowing they were unlikely to succeed, went for this underhanded move – truly democracy is dead when politicians are prepared to go against the will of the people and use loopholes for their own party’s personal gain.
And there is gain to be had, we are quite sure the move will be hailed as the correct one by many republican and right-wing voters, ensuring their continued loyalty next time it comes to elections – it is just a shame they had to compromise the very foundation and values they stand for to achieve it.
All Is Not Lost
Fortunately, two can play at the loophole game. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democrat who represents the District in Congress, has pointed out that the wording of the new bill is open to a lot of interpretation. The bills says the city cannot spend money to “enact” the legalisation of cannabis, but this doesn’t mean that it cannot happen. In theory, it still allows for legalisation to take place, it just prevents the city from taxing and regulating it. Although this is certainly a step backwards, it is one step instead of two, and is still a progression from before the initiative to legalise cannabis was passed.
The Good News
This new spending bill is not all doom and gloom however! Some would even say that it is a victory where it counts. This is because the new spending bill included an amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to inhibit and undermine state medical marijuana laws; as well as an amendment that prevents the DEA from blocking a new federal law that was passed last year allowing for the cultivation of hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes.
This means cannabis will be cemented into law on a federal level by congress where it counts. It means states will have a lot more freedom to provide medical users access to marijuana, and greatly inhibit attempts to shut down dispensaries and arrest users.
Ok, so the march to legalisation has taken a setback on the recreational front, but the core movement, which aims to see the utilization of cannabis for the medical and scientific betterment of mankind is still coming on leaps and bounds. And remember, as it becomes more accepted as a tool to genuinely help those in need, and as people see that through this, cannabis doesn’t cause the harm so many fear, opposition to recreational use will once again dissipate. Hell the voice of the people already shows that it has, it’s just the backwards thinking Republicans on Capitol Hill that still need to pull their heads out of the sand.