President Obama unveiled some proposed changes on Monday to the U.S. federal government budget — one of which is a very clever addition that should allow the District’s local government to move forward with marijuana legalization and the establishment of a regulated market.
The move was first reported by Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority for Marijuana.com:
“Tucked inside the 2,000-page, $4 trillion Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, the President is proposing that the District of Columbia should be able to spend its own money regulating marijuana however it wants. And he’s accomplished it with the simple addition of just one word: ‘Federal.’ … [B]y adding the word ‘Federal’ it makes it clear that D.C. can spend its own local funds as it sees fit.”
The original rider, championed by Maryland Representative Andy Harris of the GOP, has already drawn heavy scrutiny from both sides of the aisle. Prohibitionists claim the rider temporarily blocks any hope of legalization in the District, but top D.C. officials and some Congressional allies say that the successful November bill to legalize marijuana — Initiative 71— was enacted by voters on Election Day when they approved it with a 70% majority.
In its current state of cannabis limbo, D.C. faces a unique risk of being the first U.S. jurisdiction to legalize recreational marijuana and not establish a regulatory system to see its safe, controlled distribution — which could result in a hilariously unchecked, unregulated, and fully legal marijuana marketplace. District Mayor Muriel Bowser has already sided with voters, saying “My job is to uphold the will of the voters, and the voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana in the District.”
In the end, however, Obama’s budget plan unsurprisingly presents a mixed bag for marijuana interests. As Mike Adams from the High Times notes, the president has also allotted $27.6 billion to fight the Drug War — that’s $2 billion more than in 2014, despite recent indications from the federal government that it was going to start laying off the drug-related prosecutions.
While it should be of no surprise when the government decides to spend more taxpayer dollars, the continued mixed-messaging of the Obama Administration on marijuana policy reform is indeed hypocritical and confusing.
Photo Credit: US Embassy
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