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DC’s New Attorney General Says Congress Didn’t Stop Marijuana Initiative

Karl Racine, who starting next month will be D.C.’s first elected attorney general, believes the recently approved marijuana legalization initiative can move forward. He told the Washington Post:

“We think Initiative 71 was basically self-enacted, just as the congresswoman does,” Racine said. “And we think there’s good support for that position, and we’re going to support that position.”

At issue is an attempt by congressional Republicans to stop the measure approved overwhelmingly by DC voters. While the 650,000 residents of D.C. have no voting representation in Congress, Congress has the ability to override any local D.C. law.

House Republicans abused this power by adding a rider to the recent omnibus funding law that prevents D.C. from spending any money to “enact” new laws regarding schedule I drugs. However, the exact language they used is very important. The major political leaders in D.C. are claiming the initiative was technically “enacted” when it was approved by voters in November, so funds would only be spent to “implement” it. This means it can move forward without violating the new federal law.

How exactly to define the term “enact” when it comes to the process of adopting new laws in D.C. is not a simple legal question, but if the D.C. Council, the new D.C. Attorney General, and potentially the Obama administration all adopt this same definition it would be very difficult for House Republicans to get the courts to stop it.

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DC’s New Attorney General Says Congress Didn’t Stop Marijuana Initiative

Karl Racine, who starting next month will be D.C.’s first elected attorney general, believes the recently approved marijuana legalization initiative can move forward. He told the Washington Post:

“We think Initiative 71 was basically self-enacted, just as the congresswoman does,” Racine said. “And we think there’s good support for that position, and we’re going to support that position.”

At issue is an attempt by congressional Republicans to stop the measure approved overwhelmingly by DC voters. While the 650,000 residents of D.C. have no voting representation in Congress, Congress has the ability to override any local D.C. law.

House Republicans abused this power by adding a rider to the recent omnibus funding law that prevents D.C. from spending any money to “enact” new laws regarding schedule I drugs. However, the exact language they used is very important. The major political leaders in D.C.  are claiming the initiative was technically “enacted” when it was approved by voters in November, so funds would only be spent to “implement” it. This means it can move forward without violating the new federal law.

How exactly to define the term “enact” when it comes to the process of adopting new laws in D.C. is not a simple legal question, but if the D.C. Council, the new D.C. Attorney General, and potentially the Obama administration all adopt this same definition it would be very difficult for House Republicans to get the courts to stop it.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy, on sale for just $0.99

 

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com