D.C. presses ahead with marijuana legalization despite congressional protest
Bowser at a press conference about the legalization of marijuana on Feb. 25. CUNEYT DIL / THE EAGLE
Mayor Muriel Bowser and city leaders will press ahead with implementing marijuana legalization in D.C. Feb. 26 at midnight, defying late threats to stop legalization from Republicans in Congress.
Bowser stood united with eight D.C. councilmembers, Attorney General Karl Racine and Police Chief Cathy Lanier at a press conference Feb. 25 and said marijuana will be legal Thursday at 12:01 a.m.
“Our government is prepared to implement and enforce Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia,” Bowser said. “In keeping with the opinions of our attorney general, we believe Initiative 71 was self-enacted on [Dec. 5], when our board of elections approved the initiative.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the committee that oversees the District’s affairs, wrote in a Feb. 24 letter to Bowser the city will be violating federal law if it implements Initiative 71.
Since the letter, some members of Congress softened their tone. Early Wednesday The Washington Post reported that House Republicans will not take legal action against the city; instead, they want the Justice Department to intervene.
“Bullying the District of Columbia is not what [Chaffetz's] constituents expect, nor do ours,” Bowser said.
Initiative 71 is the ballot measure to legalize marijuana passed by 70 percent of D.C. voters in November. It will legalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, growth of the plant and consumption of it on private property for those over 21.
Adam Eidinger, chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and a 1996 AU alumnus, led the charge to draft the initiative and place it on the November ballot. He praised Bowser after the press conference for not changing her stance on the law.
“I was a little nervous walking in here, because I had no idea what [Bowser] was going to say,” Eidinger said. “But she is saying the exact right things and she’s holding her ground.”
Sale of marijuana and public use will remain illegal, regardless of the individual policies of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Possession and usage of the plant will also remain illegal on AU’s campus.
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