Despite the recent congressional tantrum intended to stop the reform of marijuana laws in Washington DC, District lawmakers have given Capitol Hill the proverbial middle finger by moving forward with plans to implement a full-scale retail marijuana market.
Councilman David Grosso, the man responsible for resurrecting the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013, earlier last month, and securing initial approval for the measure from the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, is proceeding with his master plan to establish a taxed and regulated marijuana market in the nation’s capital. An article in the U.S. News and World Report indicates that Grosso “quietly” introduced his proposal to the DC Council on Tuesday.
Although a recent federal spending bill technically prohibits the District of Columbia from using funds to legalize marijuana, the tenacious lawmaker believes now is the time to get aggressive. “I think we’re on the path to seeing this bill enacted,” he said. “By moving this bill forward, we’re directly confronting Congress.”
In November, nearly 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which legalized the cultivation, possession, and transfer of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Yet Maryland Representative Andy Harris swooped in shortly thereafter with his anti-pot rider that earned the support of his fellow Congressmen, and it was attached to the government’s 2015 budget. At that point, it appeared DC’s progressive efforts to reform its marijuana laws had succumbed to a fatal sucker punch.
However, District lawmakers discovered a loophole in the language of Harris’ rider, which they claim keeps Initiative 71 alive and well. Newly elected DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced earlier this week that the District still plans to submit the voter-approved initiative to Congress later this month for its mandatory 60-day review. “We want to respect the will of the DC voters,” she said during a recent segment of Meet the Press.
Meanwhile, District lawmakers are ready to retaliate against the recent act of congressional arrogance by moving forward with plans to open up retail pot shops across the city. “This is a golden opportunity to do direct civil disobedience,” Grosso told US News, “because if Congress is saying, ‘No, you can’t do it,’ and we do it, it challenges them to do what they think they have to do, unlike going out in the street and blocking traffic, where it’s an indirect message to the cause you’re trying to move forward.”
The idea is to actually force Congress to vote on whether to kill or approve future measures to legalize the leaf, and not rely on the technicalities of Harris’ rider. “Congress will give us our rights when 10,000 people a week show up on their doorstep and scream at them,” said Grosso. “But people aren’t doing that yet.”