Congress Set To Allow Marijuana In DC, But May Restrict Regulation And Taxation

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Marijuana will become legal in the nation’s capital with a couple of caveats from Congress: Washington, D.C. will not get funding to tax or regulate the drug, National Journal reports.

It seemed legalization wasn’t going to be in the cards for D.C. on Monday, but when asked, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted that any attempts to block the results of the November legalization vote are unlikely to be successful.

This means the legalization measure passed with nearly 70 percent support by D.C. voters in the wake of the midterm elections will stand. The drug will be decriminalized in early 2015 for users over the age of 21. For residents caught possessing under an ounce of marijuana, the fine will only be $25 dollars, instead of six months in jail and a $1,000 dollar fine. Police will not be allowed to compel anyone to produce identification. Users are even allowed to produce small amounts of the drug.

Language allowing decriminalization will apparently appear in the omnibus bill on Tuesday which needs to pass before Dec. 12 to avoid a government shutdown. Although D.C.’s mayor-elect Muriel Bowser had intended to treat marijuana just like alcohol in terms of regulation and taxation, it seems that area will still be left to the federal government, since the legislation would prohibit the city from using any funds on regulation.

“If reports are true, members of Congress from both parties bargained away the rights of the people of the District of Columbia and in doing so compromised the core democratic values of the United States,” Kimberly Perry told The Washington Post. Perry runs an organization advocating for residents of D.C. to have federal representation in Congress.

Confirmation of the reports are difficult, as budget negotiators are silent on the matter, saying that nothing is final. But as reported, the current deal represents a compromise between House Republicans, who are concerned that legalization will lead to increase use and abuse of the drug, and Democrats, who seem unwilling to challenge Republicans for a regime allowing the city to regulate and tax.

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