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D.C. Delegate Moves to Legalize Some Marijuana in Federal Housing

In this April 12, 2018, photo, a worker at the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company packages pre-rolled marijuana joints near Shelton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s delegate to Congress marked 4/20 — a celebratory day for lovers of cannibas — with a bill that would permit marijuana use in public housing.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) filed an amendment to the House fiscal year 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill and filed stand-alone legislation to allow medical marijuana in jurisdictions where it is legal.

The stand-alone bill would change federal law that allows landlords to evict tenants from federally assisted or Section 8 housing for any kind of federally illegal drug use. The amendment blocks federal funds from being used to carry out any enforcement of the law that blocks medial marijuana use in federal housing.

Medical pot is currently legal in 29 states and D.C.

“Individuals living in federally funded public housing who are prescribed legal, medical marijuana should not fear eviction for simply treating their medical conditions,” Norton said. “Our legislation should attract bipartisan support because it also protects states’ rights.”

“Over 90 percent of Americans support legalized medical marijuana,” she added. “Congress needs to catch up with its own constituents and protect individuals who live where medical marijuana is legal, but who still have no way to use it because they live in federally funded housing.”

Norton is speaking Saturday at D.C.’s National Cannabis Festival at the RFK Stadium Festival Ground.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) marked 4/20 by announcing he would introduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana use nationwide “in the coming weeks.”

“When looking at the support for legalization that clearly exists across wide swaths of the American population, it is difficult to make sense of our existing laws. Under current federal law, marijuana is treated as though it’s as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than cocaine,” Schumer wrote in an essay about why he changed his mind on the issue.

“A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime. Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. This is not only misguided, but it undermines the basic principles of fairness and equal opportunity that are foundational to the American way of life,” he said.

Schumer said his legislation “will allow each state to ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana.”

“In addition to freeing up the residents of each state to make the decisions on what’s best for them, the bill will make targeted investments which are necessary to protect public health and safety and ensure that members of all communities are able to participate in the new and thriving marijuana economy,” he continued.

“A bipartisan group of senators are already working to tackle sentencing and criminal justice reform so our drug laws catch up to the realities of the world we live in today. I hope my decriminalization plan will do the same. Over the next few months I hope that I will have your support as I work to bring Democrats and Republicans together to better serve their constituents and support the rights of Americans to freely and safely use marijuana as they please.”