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Obama Supports D.C. Cannabis with New Budget Proposal

President Obama's budget proposal for 2016 contains a little beacon of hope for Washington, D.C. residents who are frustrated by Congress' efforts to essentially block the District's retail cannabis legalization by disallowing the use of federal funding to implement the program. On page 1,248 of his 1,392 page, $4 billion budget proposal for next year, there lies a small but mighty clause:

SEC. 809. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

(b) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

When the recent federal spending bill passed by Congress included a rider to disallow funding for the implementation and regulation of retail cannabis, this new clause uses the addition of a single word – “federal” – that leaves the city lawmakers free to use their own local District funds to create a new, regulated, recreational system. This means that Washington, D.C. may see recreational cannabis in the city, after all!

Now, the real question – will the Republican-led Congress allow this budget to pass or will they attempt to undermine the autonomy of the District and the authority of the President?

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