Decriminalizes of Marijuana Takes Effect in Washington D.C.

Marijuana plants. (Credit David Mcnew/Reuters)
Marijuana plants. (Credit David Mcnew/Reuters)

A marijuana decriminalization law took effect in the District of Columbia at 12:01 Thursday morning, but House Republicans are trying to turn back the clock.

Representative Andy Harris, conservative Republican of neighboring Maryland — which is also in the process of decriminalizing marijuana amended a House budget bill that would, if Congress votes final approval, stop the city from using taxpayer funds to carry out the measure.

This is a hardy political tactic in Washington, whereby out-of-town Congressmen play top dog over elected city lawmakers, as the constitution permits. Congressional conservatives often can’t resist moralizing and scoring points back home by interfering with city laws. Meanwhile the city’s heavily black constituency understandably complains of “plantation” tyranny.

Mr. Harris, a physician and former state legislator known for opposing late-term abortions and X-rated movies at the University of Maryland, said the city’s decriminalization law does not protect minors adequately from the addictive dangers of pot. District politicians called for a retaliatory summer boycott of the Eastern Shore beach resorts of Mr. Harris’s district.

It isn’t clear whether the boycott is working, but, so far at least, the controversy has not hurt the separate Initiative 71 petition drive to go beyond decriminalization and put full legalization of marijuana — home-grown pot plants included — on the ballot for voters this November. Advocates filed 57,000 petition signatures this month, more than double the number needed, to make D.C. the Colorado of the Potomac.

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The New York Times

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