There’s nothing that congressional budget negotiators love more than kicking around the local government of Washington, D.C. It is their favorite thing to do, and they’re allowed to. No voting members of Congress represent the District, but the voting members who represent Kentucky and Maryland and every other state possess final say on all local D.C. laws, which is insane. The Enlightenment was several hundred years ago, for Christ’s sake.
I admit I had been fooled into thinking that the patronizing anti-pot-in-D.C. faction of Congress mostly consisted of Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, who was looking for some cultural issue over which to posture ahead of the elections. That whatever amendment he got placed inside a House appropriations bill would ultimately be weeded out of the final appropriations package in negotiations with the Senate. Because who cares? Why is it so important to thwart the will of the District on “the reefer” in a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations package? How could this be more a focus of controversy than the tens of billions of dollars just sort of thrown in for further Middle East empire building, or Mitch McConnell’s rider to further erode campaign finance limits?
Because it’s D.C., and D.C. is punchable.
The early word from budget negotiations yesterday morning was that a deal had been struck to block the marijuana legalization ballot measure that 69 percent of District voters approved on Election Day. That legalized possession of “small amounts” of marijuana. (“Small amounts” in ironiquotes because it means up to two ounces, which is a lot of weed.) The incoming mayor and members of the D.C. Council were preparing work on a matching measure to tax and regulate sales, so that legalized possession might be met with a legal market. Revenue from the sales could go towards funding education or fixing potholes or building soccer stadiums or streetcars of little utility, etc etc, whatever.
More at Salon