DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Last fall, voters in the District of Columbia chose to join a handful of states in legalizing the growth and possession of small amounts of marijuana. But unlike in the states, the free will of district voters — no matter how overwhelmingly expressed — is never the end of the story.
Congressional Republicans believe they have successfully nullified the law. But officials here, seizing on a single word in the congressional legislation designed to scuttle the policy, beg to differ, setting up one of the most closely watched collisions between the two Washingtons in years.
A few weeks after the marijuana ballot initiative passed, House Republicans inserted a last-minute provision into a large federal spending bill prohibiting the city, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, from spending tax dollars to enact that initiative.
Usually that is the last word. But district officials believe they have identified a loophole in the provision’s language. The marijuana law, lawyers here argue, had already been enacted and certified by the Board of Elections before Congress passed the spending bill, so there was no “enacting” for the House to prevent.