Washington, D.C., Democratic lawmakers are feuding over allowing marijuana use in businesses and bars.
The D.C. Council advanced the bill which would prevent the further liberalization of marijuana laws in D.C. with a 3-3 vote. Democrat Jack Evans is leading the opposition to the bill and tried to defeat it by a 3-2 vote until Democratic Council Chairman Phil Mendelson entered the fray to cast the tying vote, allowing it to move forward, reports NBC Washington.
“It’s really an abuse of his authority,” Evans told NBC Washington. “He didn’t need to vote.”
Mendelson, however, said that Evans was simply being bitter about not getting his way, and that it was common practice for him to step in and vote on contentious issues.
Early last year Washington D.C. legalized the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for personal consumption in a private residence, following the passage of a ballot initiative that received majority support from District citizens. Mayor Muriel Bowser responded by pushing a restriction through the council banning use anywhere outside the home.
Congress also moved to limit the scope of legalization in D.C. using a budget measure to restrict any further loosening of D.C. marijuana laws. It essentially bans the city from taxing or regulating marijuana, making lifting current restrictions much more difficult.
Mendelson argues that until the council has the ability to control marijuana use throughout the city, current laws should stand.
Evans has not given up though, promising to amend the bill while excoriating his fellow Democrats for refusing to listen to their constituents.
“The will of the people is to be able to smoke marijuana in a much more expansive way than the law now allows,” Evans said.
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