Congress to allow legal possession of marijuana in D.C. — but not sales

posted at 9:21 pm on December 9, 2014 by Allahpundit

Consider this a correction to the rapidly outdated WaPo story in Headlines this afternoon. As of last night, it looked like Republicans were going to add a rider to the spending deal being worked out between the House and Senate that would, effectively, overturn the results of the referendum held among D.C. voters last month. Fully 70 percent of Washingtonians who turned out voted yes on a resolution that would legalize public possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and allow residents to grow up to six marijuana plants themselves. Congress gets veto power over municipal laws passed in D.C., though, even when there’s supermajority approval among local residents. Looked like this would be a classic case of Washingtonians being denied the sort of basic self-governance that state residents enjoy and that federalists typically defend.

But now the deal’s been tweaked. Crisis averted?

Negotiators will include language in a must-pass omnibus appropriations bill that will restrict the city from using any funds to enact regulations around the voter-approved legalization initiative through Sept. 30, 2015. The District will still, however, be able to maintain the legalization measure passed by voters in November. D.C. residents over the age of 21 will be able to possess and cultivate personal quantities of marijuana, as the ballot initiative stated…

House Republicans, particularly Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers and junior appropriator Andy Harris of Maryland, had been vehemently pushing for language in the bill that would block both decriminalization and legalization. But Democrats objected, and the two sides reached a compromise that would block funding for any expansion of the ballot initiative, while still allowing the city to legalize marijuana.

Speaking at a press conference shortly after the passage of D.C.’s legalization measure, Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser announced her intent to craft a system for the legalized sale of marijuana in the District. “I see no reason why we wouldn’t follow a regime similar to how we regulate and tax alcohol,” she said at the time. Now such moves — which many supporters view as necessary to making legalization work — will be impossible, for the time being.

You can possess it, you just can’t acquire it unless you’re growing your own. Legalized possession was designed to be merely part one of a two-step process, though, the second step being legalized sales, of course. If you’re looking to undercut the local black market and the gangs who profit from it, obviously you need people to be able to buy the drug legally too. As it is, by freezing D.C.’s transformation to a legalized regime mid-stream, Congress might end up making the black market worse: There’s bound to be some extra buyers now that the sanctions on possession have been lifted, but since illegal drug dealers retain a monopoly on sales, those buyers will become new clients of theirs. And maybe that fear is part of the Republican strategy here — by keeping sales illegal (by refusing to allow federal funds for new regulations), the GOP may have left Washington’s city government with no choice but to suspend legalization of marijuana possession too and deny the gangs those new clients. That way Republicans get to block the entire legalization process while being able to say that, technically, they respected the democratic will of Washingtonians by allowing the recently-passed referendum to stand.

How’s that going to play politically? Well, per last month’s exit polls, a majority of voters nationally favor legalizing marijuana — but that majority has dropped seven points, from 58 percent to 51 percent, since last year. Maybe the 2013 number is an outlier or maybe, as more states vote to legalize, voters think the shift is happening too fast. Only 31 percent of self-identified conservatives support legalization, so the GOP should be fine with its older, more right-wing base, even if that means irritating libertarians and younger adults. As for Washingtonians, they can still enjoy the drug publicly for now provided they can get their hands on it, which, if you’re unwilling to buy from a gang member, isn’t easy to do: If I’m not mistaken, the nearest state where sales are legal is Colorado, some 1,500 miles away. But look on the bright side, DCers. At the rate deep blue Maryland is going, weed should be freely available there sooner rather than later — assuming the state’s new Republican governor doesn’t veto a legalization bill, of course.

Exit question: Republicans can insert a rider that makes funding the government contingent upon banning marijuana sales in D.C. but not contingent upon stopping Obama’s executive amnesty, huh?


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Comments

You mean pot is still illegal somewhere?

Walter L. Newton on December 9, 2014 at 9:26 PM

DC is almost all black, and 70% of the population voted for legalization, so I guess the Republicans are hell bent on living up their I thought undeserved reputation of wanting to stick it to the black man.

anotherJoe on December 9, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Really? This is the most important issue with the spending bill?

Nothing about
– the GOP punting for a full year?
– funding executive amnesty?
– funding Obamacare?
– essentially passing a leftist bill at over a trillion dollars?

Not only is there only one party in DC, apparently Hotair is essentially Slate.

chuckfinlay on December 9, 2014 at 9:27 PM

I’ve heard the Kennedy family has offered to bootleg it.

viking01 on December 9, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Do you think Elizabeth Warren will be smoking on the Senate Floor?

newsmachete.com on December 9, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Maybe the 2013 number is an outlier or maybe, as more states vote to legalize, voters think the shift is happening too fast.

Or maybe they’ve come to realize it’s a bad idea after seeing legalization take effect elsewhere in the country.

DC is almost all black, and 70% of the population voted for legalization, so I guess the Republicans are hell bent on living up their I thought undeserved reputation of wanting to stick it to the black man.

anotherJoe on December 9, 2014 at 9:26 PM

I hope that’s sarcasm, but it could still use some clarification. DC is actually no longer majority black. It’s still plurality black, but blacks dipped below the 50% threshold a couple of years ago, mostly due to an influx of white residents.

Stoic Patriot on December 9, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Choom gang to party in the Lincoln Bedroom.

rbj on December 9, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Maybe Gruber was right, and American’s are stupid.

Does no one remember Prohibition? Or how that worked out?

During Prohibition you were allowed to consume alcohol, and possess it, you just weren’t allowed to purchase it.

How’d that work out?

Oh yeah.

Baggi on December 9, 2014 at 9:33 PM

At least it’s pro-agriculture.

RBMN on December 9, 2014 at 9:34 PM

Oh, don’t forget Boehner relying heavily on Democrat support to pass this monstrosity. But let’s debate marihuana. What the heck happened to this place?

chuckfinlay on December 9, 2014 at 9:34 PM

If I’m not mistaken, the nearest state where sales are legal is Colorado, some 1,500 miles away. But look on the bright side, DCers. At the rate deep blue Maryland is going, weed should be freely available there sooner rather than later — assuming the state’s new Republican governor doesn’t veto a legalization bill, of course.

Allahpundit on December 9, 2014 at 9:21 PM

.
Maryland … where the single greatest man-made tragedy, due to marijuana abuse, occurred.
.
If I’m wrong about that, anyone feel free to correct me.

listens2glenn on December 9, 2014 at 9:36 PM

I hope that’s sarcasm, but it could still use some clarification. DC is actually no longer majority black. It’s still plurality black, but blacks dipped below the 50% threshold a couple of years ago, mostly due to an influx of white residents.

Stoic Patriot on December 9, 2014 at 9:32 PM

.
Well-off white people out-number blacks, in the District of Columbia?

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but do you have a source?

listens2glenn on December 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM

If DC doesn’t like it, they should tell Congress to move the capital.

Actually, they should do that anyway. It’ll solve many problems.

nobar on December 9, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Maybe Gruber was right, and American’s are stupid.

Does no one remember Prohibition? Or how that worked out?

During Prohibition you were allowed to consume alcohol, and possess it, you just weren’t allowed to purchase it.

How’d that work out?

Oh yeah.

Baggi on December 9, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Yes.

Contrary to popular belief, during prohibition, there was a major decrease in alcohol consumption among the public and there was also a significant decrease in overall crime.

Yes, crimes specifically related to the black market production and distribution of alcohol increased, but crime overall decreased. And despite the fact that the pro-marijuana crowd today argues that legal or not, the same number of people will smoke pot, during prohibition, alcohol consumption among the populace WAS drastically reduced. Demonstrating what should be a common sense concept that when something is illegal, people do it less.

But I suppose it’s easier to yell “prohibition was a failure!” when pushing the pro-marijuana agenda than it is to be honest about it.

Shump on December 9, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Well-off white people out-number blacks, in the District of Columbia?

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but do you have a source?

listens2glenn on December 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I didn’t say well-off, nor did I say that whites outnumber blacks. There was a story in the Washington Examiner a couple of years ago however that indicated that blacks had dipped to just under the 50% mark of DC’s population.

Stoic Patriot on December 9, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Young Ted Cruz Found A Very Conservative Reason To Oppose A Ban On Beer Kegs At His College:

http://www.businessinsider.com/ted-cruz-1991-op-ed-on-executive-power-2014-12

anotherJoe on December 9, 2014 at 9:47 PM

The base has been grabbing their ankles for so long as far as republicans go that they might as well start walking on all fours. They keep getting “Gruberized” by the GOP but keep going back for more. Weird!

Jackson on December 9, 2014 at 9:48 PM

Ted Cruz Was Anti-Rape Activist as Princeton Student

http://www.Newsmax.com/US/Ted-Cruz-date-rape-Princeton/2014/12/09/id/611970/

anotherJoe on December 9, 2014 at 9:49 PM

And did you know the GOP plans to fund amnesty and ObamaCare….?

d1carter on December 9, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Mooches White House garden…must be doing well!

JugEarsButtHurt on December 9, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Just let people grow their own and be done with it already

Pelosi Schmelosi on December 9, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Dude…

Galtian on December 9, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Stoic Patriot on December 9, 2014 at 9:32 PM

I got the numbers. And you’re largely right.
But I wasn’t being sarcastic. Ok, it’s not all black in DC, but it’s more black than anything else, and 70% of the people voted for legalization. 70%. That’s what the people want. Overwhelmingly. Ok, so the Republicans are sticking it to the black man.. and the white man.

So here’s the numbers for the DC population:

Black alone – 308,286 (48.8%)
White alone – 222,975 (35.3%)
Hispanic – 62,725 (9.9%)
Asian alone – 21,717 (3.4%)

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/city/Washington-District-of-Columbia.html

anotherJoe on December 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM

In a sense they just banned Marijuana legalization.
If selling is banned it means there is no market.

Weak…I don’t know what is in marijuana that scares republicans.
It can’t be worse than Alcohol.

weedisgood on December 9, 2014 at 11:57 PM

Weak…I don’t know what is in marijuana that scares republicans.
It can’t be worse than Alcohol.

weedisgood on December 9, 2014 at 11:57 PM

Why don’t you post some more lies about alcohol? Then check with The Netherlands and see what they’ve had to do to crack down on their “legal” marijuana market.

JannyMae on December 10, 2014 at 1:19 AM

Weak…I don’t know what is in marijuana that scares republicans.

You have drug dealers admitting –even on TV–they’re selling more and worse drugs, like cocaine, in areas that pot is legal for medical and recreational purposes. One of the most recent examples that comes to mind is a woman in Portland that said “marijuana is basically legal here, so I’m selling other stuff”. Guess what she was selling? Prescription painkillers, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy.

It boggles my mind how some people think that not only the black market will vanish if the country legalizes marijuana, but also it will somehow fundamentally change the underlying basic business strategies they use. It’s like some of the pro-legal crowd thinks that those greedy, sociopathic dealers will suddenly stop selling all illegal drugs and work at pizza shops. It’s like they think those dealers won’t move onto higher margin drugs and try to capture the most customers as possible.

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use in an attempt to weaken the drug cartels is the worst way to go about it. It’s just incentivizing them to go onto higher margin drugs (marijuana is not a high margin plant), like LSD and prescription painkillers, and counterfeit drugs.

DevilishSoda on December 10, 2014 at 2:59 AM

I wonder if you can give it away and/or trade it? There have been garden exchanges going on for decades — where you uproot a plant, split the root ball, and trade those individual smaller plants for other plants you want.

Tanya on December 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Soooo….

Now we URGENTLY need to mandate drug tests before anybody is allowed to vote or take any government action.

landlines on December 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Look, it’s so commonly used, time to stop persecuting people for it: clogs up cops time, jails and courts.

It’s legal for recreational use in Washington state now, so they spend all their time writing DUI tickets to people who smoked a bowl 24 hours ago because it still detectable on the hyper-sensitive tests.

Progress?

Tard on December 10, 2014 at 3:28 PM