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The best time to remove anti-Home-Rule runners in Congress for the District of Columbia is now

Two weeks ago, the District of Columbia’s fight against marijuana regulation took a historic turn. For the first time, the DC Council held a public hearing on legislation to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana for adult use. For seven years now, nearly 65% ​​of Washingtonians voted in favor of Initiative 71 (I-71), a campaign that led the nation to center racial justice and equity as important reasons to end the criminalization of marijuana. Under this initiative, it is legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow and share small amounts of marijuana. Despite broad support to end the local war on marijuana and urgent calls to explore what fairness and justice look like after legalization, the district has been continually blocked from taking action to move forward with regulation of marijuana use by adults.

The blockage is due to a congressional appropriations endorsement, which prohibits the District from using its local funds to tax or regulate sales of adult-use marijuana. Every year since the passage of I-71, Congress has included that runner, known as the Harris runner, who ended the real benefits of public health and justice reform promised by the campaign.

Over the past few years, I have worked diligently with dozens of state and local advocacy organizations to remove the rider. For the first time since the passage of I-71, we have successfully had the jumper removed from the pending versions of the DC appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 in the House and Senate. With the DC Council hearing two weeks ago, I hope that my efforts to remove the endorsement from DC’s final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 will finally allow the DC Council to pass legislation legalizing the marketing of marijuana for adult use.

The district has experienced far too many preventable public health and safety issues due to the lack of a regulated market. The hearing allowed DC council members to discuss equitable ways to address commercialization in the district, with particular attention to communities of color and low-income people who are disproportionately affected by the war on Drugs.

DC residents want and deserve to see the benefits of a regulated adult marijuana market, such as the entry of entrepreneurs into the marijuana industry and the creation of jobs and economic development at home. district scale. The 18 states that have voted to commercialize marijuana for adult use benefit from the revenue it generates. Last year, the House demonstrated its support for economic development and restorative justice through the commercialization of marijuana at the federal level by passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. Now we have the historic opportunity to follow the spirit of the DC Home Rule Act and enable the District to do the same. It is time for the District to have the full legislative capacity to carry out the will of its inhabitants.

Congresswoman Norton has long advocated removing the appropriations endorsement that prevents the District of Columbia from spending local funds to regulate marijuana.

Tags : home rule
Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera