Congress Threatens DC Mayor With Jail Time

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has received a strongly worded letter from two Republicans in the House: if she permits the ballot measure which would legalize marijuana at midnight on Wednesday to go through, she could face jail time.

As Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah emphasized, “we’re not playing a little game here.”

The clock is ticking, and everyone is watching to see what’s going to happen next, The Washington Post reports. Republican Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chair of the appropriations subcommittee which is tasked with overseeing the D.C. budget, agreed, demanding in the letter that Bowser produce a list of all employees involved with Initiative 71, the voter-backed measure which would legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana in the city, consumption of marijuana on private property, but not the sales of marijuana.

The letter also requested that Bowser provide the salaries of the employees, as well as any additional employees who have not had any involvement with the measure.

The assumption is that this information could be used in a lawsuit down the road, and so Meads and Chaffetz have urged Bowser to reconsider her position. Chaffetz’s appropriations subcommittee has already started an investigation.

Initiative 71 was passed by voters in November—by 70 percent to 30 percent and has been under standard congressional review for 30 days, which is set to run out on Wednesday at midnight. But so far Congress hasn’t been able to muster enough support to crush the measure.

Part of the reason the issue just hasn’t come up in Congress is because most members believe D.C. is already prohibited from spending any funds to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. But, according to D.C. officials, the law is self-executing on its own, meaning that no extra funds are required.

This isn’t the first time the prospect of jail time has entered the discussion. At the beginning of February, the D.C. City Council backed down from holding meetings to come up with a regulatory framework for the post-legalization period after facing threats from D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine that moving forward would be a clear violation of “federal civil and criminal code provisions.” (RELATED: DC Council Threatened With Jail Time For Discussing Marijuana)

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