Maryland Representative Andy Harris’s Amendment to Block Funding for D.C. Marijuana Law

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March 23, 2017
Denver, CO

An amendment, which blocks funding for D.C.’s new law that removes criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, passed the Appropriations Committee yesterday, the Washington Post reports. The D.C. law that this measure effectively negates is set to take effect next month, and would eliminate jail time as a punishment for marijuana possession. A fine of $25 would still apply for first-time offenders. Public use would remain a misdemeanor. Representative Harris, a doctor from Maryland, was able to sway fellow Republicans and a single Democrat with outdated claims of marijuana being a “gateway drug” and inaccurate comparisons to Maryland’s recent decriminalization law, which is set to go into effect Oct. 1.

Regardless of this, D.C.’s Mayor Vincent C. Gray has claimed that the city will implement the law, even though its authority to enforce it beyond October remains questionable. Gray’s office also warned that the amendment might force the city to shut down its medical marijuana program, which started last year. Marijuana advocates are also decrying the measure, claiming that D.C. should have the right to determine its own marijuana policies without interference from out-of-state lawmakers. The Attorney General in D.C. is reviewing the matter. The amendment will take effect in October if and when it is voted into law.

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