D.C. Maneuvering For Marijuana Showdown With Congress

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The congressional effort to block marijuana legalization in the District has been widely viewed as yet another frustrating defeat for self-governance by residents of the nation’s capital.

But city leaders are saying otherwise, promising to throw the issue back to Congress next month in a way that could prompt the most high-profile showdown in years over D.C. rights.

The giant federal budget bill that passed in the Senate on Saturday includes a provision, inserted by Republicans, that prohibits the city from spending tax dollars to enact the marijuana initiative.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Friday that he plans to ignore the provision and instead follow the usual procedure for a voter-approved referendum in a city required to submit to federal oversight: He will send a bill implementing Initiative 71 to Congress in January for a 30-day review, during which federal lawmakers can veto it or let it stand.