Ignoring warnings from Congressional Republicans, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser enacted the city’s new law legalizing marijuana possession on Thursday. Despite being issued stern warnings from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), that she would be breaking federal law by allowing pot to be legalized, Bowser was undeterred.
Noting that D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved the measure legalizing marijuana in the city, Bowser defiantly responded:
We would encourage the Congress to not be so concerned with overturning what 7-in-10 voters said should be the law in the District of Columbia.
She added that Chaffetz and Meadows should focus on more important goals, like maybe funding Homeland Security. That task, she felt, should take precedence over fighting the evils of D.C. weed smokers toking up in the privacy of their homes.
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Although the D.C. law still prohibits buying or selling marijuana, it does allow city residents, age 21 and older, to possess up to six marijuana plants. They can also transfer up to an ounce of marijuana to another person as a gift, as long as no money is exchanged. The law prohibits public smoking but allows private use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The showdown between the D.C. Mayor and Congress has long been brewing as the Republican-dominated body has tried to use its federal authority to impose its will on the Democratically controlled city. Because the District of Columbia lacks statehood, Congress can more easily force policy on the District’s residents.
Congressional Republicans inserted provisions in a December bill to prevent D.C. from legalizing marijuana. It also forbade the city from reducing criminal penalties for drug possession. This, despite the fact that D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, to legalize weed, in November by a crushing 70-30 margin.
For all of their rhetoric about limited government, individual liberty, and local control, House Republicans do not want black people or multi-ethnic liberals, in the nation’s capital, to be able to exercise self-government. Fortunately, Washington D.C. has a strong Mayor who is willing to stand up for the city’s residents, against the meddling Republicans in Congress. The GOP Congress wants to rule over D.C. like feudal lords running a federal fiefdom.
Muriel Bowser has stood up to the wannabe feudal lords and made marijuana use legal in the city. Due to the ongoing conflict between Congress and the city, the drama surrounding D.C. pot legalization is far from over. However, at least for now, local residents can smoke a joint legally, thanks to Mayor Bowser and no thanks to moralizing GOP Congressmen like Chaffetz and Meadows.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.