The spending deal reached between Senate Democrats and House Republicans would block the legalization of marijuana until September of 2015 in Washington, D.C.
The move to block to legalized marijuana overrides the will of the voters who approved initiative 71 in the November election. The ballot measure allowed for possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana and up to three mature cannabis plants for home cultivation.
A spending “rider” on the deal would allow neither the 2 oz of pot nor the three plants.
“I can’t believe they did this,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said. “We don’t need to be locking these people up.”
“It’s totally disturbing; it’s entirely undemocratic,” said Adam Eidinger, who led the efforts to collect over 57,000 signatures this year to put the measure before D.C. voters.
Marijuana advocates are planning a march today in front of the Justice Department and Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reports there is “potential for several advocates to seek arrest.”
“I’m ready for some civil disobedience. If you’re going to overturn an election, you might as well say something before it’s done.” said Eiginger.
The marijuana rider “mirrored” an amendment introduced last summer by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who is a critic of legalized marijuana.
Following a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which was interrupted repeatedly by marijuana advocates, Harris said a deal would “show fairly broad-based support in Congress against legalization.”
Maryland’s only House Republican also said he had no qualms about interfering with the results of the Nov. 4 election. On that day, voters in Alaska, the District and Oregon chose to legalize marijuana, but only the District’s vote was subject to oversight by Congress.
Said Harrs: “The fact is the Constitution gives Congress the ultimate oversight about what happens in the federal district.”
Washington D.C.’s district Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton was not happy with the development. “I certainly don’t know why Democrats would agree to block legalization while we still control the White House, we still control the Senate — and who knows, they may even need Democratic votes to pass this.” She claims she was locked out the process of discussion on the issue. “I don’t even know which Democrats are in the room. . . . I cannot tell why Democrats would want to give Republicans a head start to do what they are going to be able to do, I suppose, in less than a month” when Republicans take control of the Senate.