House Republicans Warn D.C. Mayor She Could Go to Jail for Legalizing Pot

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House Republicans Warn D.C. Mayor She Could Go to Jail for Legalizing Pot

By May Wilkerson 02/26/15

Republicans want to jail Mayor Muriel Bowser for enacting a voter-approved law.

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Mayor Muriel Bowser
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Photo via

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are still battling over a new law to legalize marijuana in the district, which was set to take effect today.

On Tuesday, House Republicans Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Mark Meadows wrote a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, cautioning her to reconsider pot legalization. "If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” they wrote.

Chaffetz, who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, even warned Bowser she could go to jail for implementing the new law, since marijuana is still illegal at a federal level. "If they are under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong," Chaffetz told The Washington Post. "And there are very severe consequences for violating this provision. You can go to prison for this. We're not playing a little game here."

But Bowser was not deterred. She and Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced Tuesday that they would move ahead with marijuana legalization despite congressional opposition. Beginning at 12:01 am this morning, they said it will be legal in D.C. to possess up to 2 ounces of weed. Paraphernalia will also be legal, and residents can grow up to six seedlings of the plant in their homes.

“Residents spoke loud and clear when they voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia,” said Bowser. The next step, she said, is to implement the law “in a safe, fair and transparent way.”

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