“House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Government Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N-C., rolled a missive over to Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser late Tuesday night. In a little more than 24 hours, Washington, D.C., was set to become the first jurisdiction in the eastern U.S. to decriminalize small amounts of pot. And with marijuana about to become legalized in the nations capital at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Chaffetz and Meadows were determined to pre-empt jokers, smokers, and midnight tokers in the federal city.”
The Chaffetz/Meadows message to Bowser, a Democrat, was blunt.
“If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing the willful violation of the law,” the congressmen warned the mayor. “We strongly suggest you reconsider your position.”
At the end, the last-minute warning didnt work. Growing and possessing weed became legal in the city overnight.
In November, nearly two-thirds of D.C.’s voters adopted a ballot measure permitting persons age 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow as many as six cannabis plants. So it should come as no surprise that members od Congress want to hash things out with the city now.
“Given Congress’s broad powers to legislate with regard to the District of Columbia it would be unprecented for the District to take actions proscribed by legislation passed by congress and signed by the President,” wrote Chaffetz and Meadows.
Harris says the District of Columbia conducted meetings about how to handle marijuana. D.C.’s Police Chief Cathy Lanier was involved in talks with other city officials about implementing the program. Harris says those activities violate the express intent of Congress, banning the expenditure of any funds toward the cannabis initiative.
I think the attorney general should prosecute people in the District who participate in this under the Anti-Deficiency Act,” said Harris. “These people should be very afraid.”
“Me being in jail wouldn’t be a good thing,” said Bowser, arguing that the lawmakers were “bullying” the city.
But Harris thought it was hight time for Congress to weigh in.
“We don’t take lightly being involved in D.C. home rule,” said the Maryland Republican.
Despite what lawmakers want to do about D.C.’s marijuana provision, it’s legal now.
The way I see it, the Anti-Deficiency Act is clear. It has two years jail time and loss of job, as well as pentalties.
Congress was given the power to approve laws of D.C., D.C. has home rule and that gives them the autonomy but congress has the final say. Having said that, I don’t think that they have a legal case here because the initiative was enacted in November when it was passed. The rider doesnt allow them to enact a law, but it was already enacted. The money they are spending now is being spent on carrying out the law. That provision that barred them from carrying out the law was stricken from the rider.
Setting all that aside for a moment, even though congress legally can over turn the laws of DC. The Federal Government overturning a local DC initiative that the voters overwhelmingly supported by 70%. Thats not a small government, thats advocating that people from another state can overturn a popularly enacted local law. And thats just insane hypocrisy!