Washington, D.C. Challenges Cannabis Legalization Ruling

Published on January 15, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

They may be small, but they are mighty! The voters of the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital that's just 68 square miles tucked between two states, have spoken and that voice will not be silenced, not even by the U.S. government.

The nation watched as recreational legalization passed with a huge majority in the 2014 general election, with nearly 70% of affirmative votes. We watched again, crestfallen, when Congress passed a rider on the omnibus spending bill, effectively vetoing the decision to allow recreational cannabis in Washington, D.C. However, in a bit of positive news to come out of D.C. since then, City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson submitted the new cannabis legalization initiative to Congress for review this Tuesday, defying previous efforts by Congress to veto the measure. This will start the clock on the mandatory 30-day review period in which Congress can attempt to veto the measure (again).

The new legalization initiative creates a unique and unprecedented situation whereupon the Republicans who have fought against legalization say that the measure cannot be enacted due to the ruling that no federal funding may be used for implementation; however, supporters of the initiative say that effectively, the law has already been enacted and will be implemented with or without funding.

We've got 30 days to see what comes of this new development. The clock is ticking!

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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