Marijuana Foes Agree: Pot Research Is Needed

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: An unlikely pair of lawmakers is seeking to promote government research of marijuana.

Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) — who stand on opposite sides of the legalization debate — are co-sponsoring an amendment that would help scientists study medical marijuana.

“Our amendment shows members of Congress with widely varying views on marijuana policy are united in support of building a robust body of scientific information on medical marijuana,” said Blumenauer, whose state recently legalized recreational use of the drug.

White House Says Marijuana Policy Is States’ Rights Issue

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Obama administration believes marijuana policy is a states’ rights issue, the White House said Monday in opposing Republican-led legislation that would prevent Washington, D.C., from using local funds to decriminalize marijuana possession.

The GOP-sponsored House amendment would prevent D.C. “from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule,” the White House said in a statement. The White House said the bill “poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) a “tyrant” for meddling in the District’s governing process with the amendment, pointing out that Maryland just voted to decriminalize marijuana possession. The amendment is aimed at blocking a recent D.C. law that lowers the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a fine.

It’s been less than a year since the Justice Department decided not to sue Washington state and Colorado for legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana. Attorney General Eric Holder told The Huffington Post earlier this year that he was “cautiously optimistic” about legalization in Colorado, which began recreational sales Jan. 1. Washington state sales began this month.

White House Threatens to Veto Bill That Would Kill D.C.’s Marijuana Decriminalization Law

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The White House threatened Monday to veto the 2015 House appropriations bill,  which contains a buried amendment that would effectively quash D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization bill.

In June, Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, tacked on an amendment to the larger appropriations bill that said D.C. could not use any of its money to enact or enforce its locally passed decriminalization. The bill looks like it will survive its mandated 60-day Congressional review period, which expires Thursday, but if there is no money to enforce the law, it could be rendered meaningless.

The Appropriations Committee already passed the appropriations bill, which now has to make it through a full House vote and a joint conference with the Senate, which seems unlikely at best.

 

House Committee Passes ‘Rider’ To Halt Marijuana Decriminalization In D.C.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  A Republican-led congressional committee voted Wednesday to block implementation of legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation’s capital.

The move came in the form of an amendment to a major spending bill and was sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland Republican, who argued that marijuana use can negatively affect the brain development of children.

“Congress has the authority to stop irresponsible actions by local officials, and I am glad we did for the health and safety of children throughout the District,” said Mr. Harris, a doctor representing Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “When I became a physician, I took an oath to do no harm, and decriminalizing marijuana will harm D.C. residents, especially youth.”

Mr. Harris also argued that the city’s law was poorly crafted, saying a similar law passed this year decriminalizing marijuana in Maryland included provisions that refer teen violators for drug treatment and include progressively more serious penalties for repeat offenders.