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Congress Ignores Voters; Keeps GOP’s DC Weed Sales Ban

Congress put the ban back after howls of protest from Republicans. Sales in DC would highlight Prohibitionist hypocrisy

ABA Journal

Federal lawmakers kept a GOP ban on marijuana sales in DC, this week. The ban is in a government funding bill passed by Congress Thursday, reports The Hill. Activists said the provision overrides the will of the District’s residents years after they voted to legalize Cannabis.

The “Harris Ride,” is provision barring the legalization of adult-use marijuana sales in DC. It coasted through the US Senate late Thursday as part of a spending bill. It passed the House a day earlier as part of a $1.5 billion package. The provision’s chief proponent is obnoxious, weed-hating conservative Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.).

“I’m surprised and deeply disappointed by both the House and Senate’s inability to negotiate on behalf of Washingtonians,” said the Drug Policy Alliance’s Queen Adesuyi. “Especially on one of the most bipartisan issues in the country,” the group’s national policy manager added.

Cannabis Council CEO Steven Hawkins said the rider “created a harmful underground market that operates without any standards or safeguards.”

Democrats Pushed To Allow Sales

Congressional Democrats had pushed to do away with the provision. They opted not to include the Harris Rider in the funding bills unveiled by appropriators in both the House and Senate last year.

But lawmakers put the rider back in, after loud howls of protest from weed-hating Republicans. After all, if legal Cannabis sales happened in the nation’s capitol it would highlight their stark prohibitionist hypocrisy, don’t ya know.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) described her reaction as “deeply disappointed” because the legislation keeps the marijuana rider. She placed the blame squarely at the feet of “Republicans, whose votes are necessary to pass the bill.”

US Cannabis Council CEO Steven Hawkins said the rider has “created a harmful underground market that operates without any standards or safeguards and is at odds with the will of local voters.”

Rep. Harris, for his part, is unapologetic and unrepentant for denying the will of DC’s voters. ”I mean, there’s more and more evidence that recreational marijuana is not a good idea,” he claimed just this week.

“We Don’t Like The Fact It’s There”

“We don’t like the fact it’s there,” said Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. “But it was a choice between providing DC and the American people with funding for their big priorities and still having them and not having them.” Van Hollen chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

“Republicans were the ones who insisted,” said Van Hollen. ”They were ready to shut down the government.” His panel handles DC appropriations.

More than 50 Cannabis advocacy and civil rights groups had sent a letter to congressional leaders and appropriators last week, asking they finally allow adult-use cannabis sales to begin in DC.

Activists also wanted to see an expansion of the current state medical marijuana protection language to cover all state cannabis programs from Justice Department intervention, reports Marijuana Moment. But that didn’t happen, either.

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