Obama 2017 Budget Would Lift Restrictions on D.C. Cannabis; Give DOJ More Power

President Obama has released a $4 trillion budget for 2017 that proposes Washington, D.C. be allowed to spend its tax money to implement retail cannabis regulations.

The budget would lift current restrictions on the use of local funds by D.C. lawmakers to create a recreational cannabis regulatory system. The Republican-led Congress passed a spending bill at the end of 2014 — and again in 2015 — that forbade the District from using federal or local money either to legalize cannabis or to reduce criminal penalties associated with its possession or recreational use.

President Obama proposed lifting the restriction in the 2016 budget as well, but the restrictions were re-enacted in December 2015.

D.C. residents voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2014, but lawmakers have been unable to enact any new legislation due to the restrictions.

The 2017 budget would allow the use of local D.C. funds to effect regulatory change on cannabis by defining the funds which the District cannot use as “federal” funds only.

In addition, the 2017 budget proposes removing a section of the current law that stops the Justice Department from interfering with state medical cannabis legislation. In a departure from his generally hands-off stance on state medical marijuana laws, President Obama’s proposed budget would allow the Justice Department to use federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana programs as it sees fit.

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