Congress Will Continue to Block Washington D.C.’s Ability to Regulate or Sell Legal Weed
A new provision to the federal budget cuts out the loophole that would have let D.C. City Council work around the Congressional padlock.
Published on May 3, 2017

Despite Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions’ big talk about walls, shuttered health clinics, and legal weed crackdowns, the first federal budget of 45’s term contained little to no funding for the border wall or medical marijuana shutdowns, and a less than 1% cut to Planned Parenthood’s funding. In general the new budget is a win for reason and common sense – that is, unless you’re a cannabis consumer in Washington D.C.

In the three years since voters in Washington D.C. passed Initiative 71 to legalize recreational cannabis, Congress has used the federal budget to block the District’s ability to tax, regulate or create an industry for legal weed. Now, According to MassRoots, the new budget has doubled down on the anti-weed action and added a new piece of nomenclature that seals up an existing loophole that could have allowed D.C. City Council to use reserve funds to set up a legal weed industry.

In the years since D.C.’s 2014 legalization, the D.C. budget riders have blocked City Council from using funds from the current year to create a cannabis marketplace, but this year, a new sentence in the budget drops the annual specificity and bars the District from using any funds, from any year, to set up pot shops.

For D.C. cannabis advocates and City Council members who had for years pushed Mayor Muriel Bowser to take advantage of the loophole and use reserve funds to create a legal industry, the new provision is a slap in the face.



The budget is expected to be enacted this week to avoid a government shutdown, but the city-specific anti-cannabis industry rider will only be in effect until the end of the current fiscal year this coming September, when activists and lawmakers can once again start to fight for freedom in the nation’s capital.

Until then D.C. stoners will need to grow their own or rely on the local cannabis gift economy. Thankfully, those loopholes are still in place.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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