Dems in Congress Opt to Keep Ban on Washington, D.C. Cannabis Sales

Dems in Congress Opt to Keep Ban on Washington, D.C. Cannabis Sales
High Times

Congressional Democrats decided this week to maintain a prohibition on cannabis sales in Washington, D.C. despite previous suggestions that they were prepared to lift the ban and begin allowing legal sales.  A drafted spending bill that was unveiled on Wednesday by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, still included the so-called “Harris Rider,” which has precluded the District of Columbia from commercializing weed, despite the fact that D.C. voters legalized recreational pot use back in 2014. Tied up in this issue is the D.C. bid for statehood.  Named for Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, the rider has been a fixture of every appropriations bill since the passage of that legalization initiative. (The U.S. Congress oversees all laws in the District of Columbia.) So while D.C. adults aged 21 and older have been able to legally possess cannabis for the last eight years, the dream of a regulated market in the nation’s capital has not been fully realized for cannabis users. Politico explained that “D.C. residents are allowed to consume, grow and ‘gift’ cannabis products.” (“Gifting,” wherein a business sells other items and then “gifts,” the customer cannabis has been a popular work-around for pot sellers in jurisdictions where sales are still illegal.) The development will be seen as a major disappointment for cannabis advocates, who have long targeted the elimination of the Harris Rider as a policy objective.  As Politico noted, the inclusion of the rider “came as a surprise to some advocates because it was not included in funding packages put forth by the House and Senate,”  although “President Joe Biden’s proposed budget did include the controversial provision.” A year ago, with Democrats officially taking back control of Congress and Biden sworn in as president, the outlook for cannabis reform looked bright. However, that…

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