When D.C. legalized the possession of marijuana in 2014, it was the product of a movement that, in many ways, was the first of its kind. “The campaign in D.C. was the first in the country that centrally focused on legalization as a racial justice issue,” says Michael Collins, director of national affairs at Drug Policy Alliance, a group that has been intimately involved in shaping the District’s marijuana policy over the years. “It’s not lived up to that promise.”
Collins places the blame for those failures squarely on the shoulders of Republican Representative Andy Harris. Every year since 2014, the Maryland congressman has proposed a rider to the House budget, explicitly blocking D.C. from taxing and regulating recreational cannabis. So while it’s legal to use marijuana in the District, it’s still illegal to sell it, and vendors have resorted to the “gray” market where they might sell a customer an $80 T-shirt and then “gift” them an ounce of marijuana.
But with Democrats back in control of the House, Harris didn’t even try to get his rider passed this time around, and while it remains to be seen what the Senate will do, District politicians are moving full steam ahead. [Read more at Washington City Paper]