Obama’s New Budget Plan Could Permit D.C. to Legalize Pot
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Looks like the District of Columbia’s battle to legalize marijuana has received a major boost from the president. The Obama Administration unveiled a nearly $4 trillion federal budget plan this week, with some fine print that could prevent Congress from blocking pot legalization in the district.
Back in November, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to legalize small-scale possession. But a federal budget deal struck by Democrats and Republicans in December looked like it could overturn the measure. The budget included a provision, introduced by Republican Rep. Andy Harris, that would prevent the city from using funds to legalize or regulate the sale of marijuana.
By adding the word "federal" to his budget, the President appears to have reopened the door for legalization in the district. The new wording suggests that while federal funds will be prevented from being used to implement marijuana laws, local funds could be put towards regulating and taxing recreational pot.
“It is very much consistent with the administration’s stance that marijuana policy is a state’s rights issue and his statements in support of D.C. being able determine its local laws," Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Huffington Post.
The change is not yet set in stone, since Obama's budget plan faces formidable opposition by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. But if Obama's exact wording remains in the final version, D.C. legalization could take effect as early as March and legal pot could hit shelves by the end of the year. This means recreational pot retailers, like those already open in Colorado and Washington, could open their doors just steps from the nation’s capital.