Advocates and city residents used April 20, the unofficial stoner day, to celebrate Washington D.C. making marijuana possession legal in the face of continued federal challenges.
For Alex Jeffery, an organizer for the D.C. chapter of National Organization of Reform of Marijuana Law, the federal government making it more difficult for drug policy reforms to move forward in the city is the issue. Back in February as part of Ballot Initiative 71, the city legalized the possession of weed. However, Congress has prevented further reforms which would allow residents to sell the substance and the city to tax it.
“The point of today’s rally is to do a little bit of civil disobedience in the District of Columbia,” Jeffery told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ve done a fantastic job of regulating some of the crucial parts of the cannabis law from the Initiate 71 but we’re still failing to bring it to the next level from a regulation and taxation point of view.”
Jeffery, with a megaphone in hand, walked the streets of Washington throughout much of the afternoon with a crowd of supporters. The group stopped at various points throughout the city before finally making it to a rally near the Capitol Building.
“Right now the mayor is very supportive of our actions,” he continued. “Unfortunately members of Congress have made it difficult or almost impossible to move forward.”
Jeffery is hopeful President Barack Obama will do more to sway public opinion during his time left in office and that the next president will also help in reforming drug laws.
Nikolas Schiller, the director of communications for the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, noted that despite the obstacles, public opinion is moving increasingly in favor of more relaxed drug laws, including among Republicans.
“It’s very much a bipartisan issue,” Schiller told TheDCNF. “During CPAC Republican millennials had the questions put before them and overwhelmingly the majority of them, millennial Republicans, support marijuana reform.”
“Going forward it will be interesting to see where the presidential candidates stand on cannabis legalization,” Schiller continued. “For example Gov. Chris Christie is against cannabis reform and Rand Paul believes it’s a states’ rights issue.”
Schiller, who helped organize the rally near the Capitol Building, noted its mission goes beyond legalization.
“We set up this liberty pole right here because D.C. residents, that 650,000 Americans citizens that live in the District of Colombia, suffer taxation without representation,” Schiller detailed. “Members of Congress in the budget last year added a rider, which was done sort of behind closed door, in an attempt to overturn the initiate that 70 percent of the district was in support of.”
“It prevents the D.C. Council, who D.C. residents voted for, from passing new laws concerning cannabis,” Schiller added. “Because of members of Congress who are drug warriors and prohibitionists they’ve chosen to prevent D.C. from going forward with more relaxed laws.”
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