Drug Policy Alliance Urges Congress To Remove Rider Preventing D.C. From Regulating Cannabis

According to an annual crime survey published by Gallup in October of 2019, 66 percent of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, including 51 percent of Republicans.

On Wednesday, November 12, the Drug Policy Alliance was joined by a coalition of 17 other criminal justice reform, liberty, and drug policy organizations in sending a letter to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as well as the Financial Services and General Subcommittees requesting that a rider preventing the District of Columbia from establishing a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis be removed.

Washington D.C. voters legalized cannabis in November of 2014 by approving Initiative 71, but Congress has included an appropriations rider each year to prohibit the District from using regulatory funds to regulate marijuana.

The Coalition writes that, despite local leadership and residents wanting to exercise their sovereign right to set their own policy, current law has interfered with the District’s efforts to regulate cannabis and impacted public safety.

“Without the ability to regulate marijuana sales, the grey market for marijuana flourishes despite the need and want of the District leadership and residents alike to establish a regulatory model,” writes the Coalition. “Such a model would free up law enforcement resources to focus on reducing violent crime.”

The Coalition says that such a model would also allow legitimate entrepreneurs to start businesses, create jobs, and spur economic development.

With more than 700,000 residents in the D.C. area, the Coalition says that Congress should follow the spirit of the Home Rule Act and allow the District to set its own laws on cannabis regulation.