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Washington DC Moves Closer to Allowing Marijuana Sales

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Washington DC officials in the US capital are using a loophole in congressional legislation to pursue legalization of marijuana and regulate its sale within city limits.

DC residents last November voted in favor (67%) of allowing pot for recreational use, but several congressional Republicans oppose it and are trying to stop it from going into effect.

The city has a rather unique relationship with Congress in that while residents vote for their own mayor and city council, Congress has the last word on DC’s budgetary and legislative matters, including voter initiatives such as the marijuana proposal.

© AP Photo / Carolyn KasterDC Mayor Muriel Bowser
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser - Sputnik International
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

Late last year federal legislators inserted language into a budget bill that prohibits the city from spending public funds to legalize pot.

The congressional legislation includes language that says the city cannot use funds to “enact” the law, but the local Board of Elections already certified the provision – therefore “enacting” it – and city officials are using that to go ahead with it.

Congress, they argue, would have to go through a lengthy and rarely used process to officially disprove the law, something the city says they doubt will happen.

The City Council is holding hearings on Monday to discuss implementing the law by sometime in the spring, and is also talking about a bill that would prohibit employers from testing employees for marijuana use until after they are hired.  

Even if it doesn’t officially shoot down the bill, Congress could still step in by placing riders on other pieces of legislation to block the marijuana law from ever seeing the light of day in DC.

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