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DC Mulls Skirting Federal Law On Full Marijuana Legalization

A council member is pushing his peers to fully legalize marijuana in Washington, D.C., by taxing and regulating the substance in defiance of a Republican-led Congress.

David Grosso, an at-large council member, introduced legislation in the D.C. Council Tuesday to establish a full tax and regulatory framework for weed legalization, which District voters approved by an overwhelming margin in 2014.

The decision mirrors a similar bill Grosso submitted two years ago following the passage of full marijuana legalization by voters. Grosso acknowledges the legislation will flagrantly violate federal law and pit the D.C. Council against Congress, but argues repeated actions to meddle in local law by Congress have forced their hand, reports the DCist.

A 1973 city charter requires the District government to wait for congressional approval before spending money from its budget, which is how Congress has blocked attempts to tax and regulate marijuana. If the Council includes rules governing marijuana in D.C. in their budget, it will be a direct challenge to congressional authority over the city.

“It would be a violation of federal law to move this bill forward,” Grosso said Tuesday, according to the DCist. “But I believe, quite passionately, that is what is called for in the District of Columbia when our rights are trampled on a regular basis.”

District voters passed the ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes with 64 percent support but the Republican-led Congress immediately barred the D.C. Council from spending budget funds on regulating the substance. The law has been left in legal limbo, with residents legally allowed to posses and smoke marijuana in their private residence, but unable to engage in a legal private marketplace.

“D.C. has spoken when it comes to marijuana policy and it’s our obligation as the city’s elected leaders to carry out the will of the people,” Grosso said, according to the DCist. “I think we ought to go ahead and violate the federal law.”

Advocates for marijuana legalization in the District are planning a show of civil disobedience for Trump’s inauguration by protesting federal weed laws. The protesters will gather at Dupont Circle at 8 a.m. Jan. 20 and then march to the Capitol where they plan to give away 4,200 marijuana gifts.

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