Senate Democrats have removed a provision from a proposed appropriations bill that has prevented Washington, D.C. from allowing cannabis sales to adults, the Washington Post reports. The move comes as the City Council is poised to hear from the public next month about allowing cannabis sales in the District.
D.C. voters approved broad cannabis legalization reform in 2014 but a rider by Republican Rep. Andy Harris (Md.) has prevented the city from allowing cannabis sales and the rider has been included in every appropriations bill since then and Congress has oversight over all of the District’s laws. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) called the situation “illogical.”
“The Harris rider has been a real disservice to the District. What Congress has done is create a wild wild west where there is no ability to have meaningful, constructive regulation.”—Mendelson to the Post
Mendelson said that if the rider is removed, then the council would “move quickly” on legislation to allow adult-use sales. In his budget proposal in May, President Joe Biden (D) also kept the rider in place.
The bill before the City Council would also expand medical cannabis dispensaries in D.C.
A separate bill to legalize sales was also introduced by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) but that legislation is not on the agenda for next month’s public hearing.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C.’s nonvoting delegate in the House, told the Post that “with Democrats controlling the White House, House, and Senate, we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a spending bill with no anti-democratic riders.”
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