As of 12:01 am., last night, Marijuana is now officially legal in our nation’s capital, spawning a local government versus federal government showdown.
In spite of last minute warnings by House Republicans, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser implemented D.C.’s new marijuana law allowing its residents to possess and smoke marijuana.
Initiative 71, which was approved by 7 out 10 voters in November, will allow for possession of up to 2 ounces of weed for home use for D.C. residents over the age of 21. They will also be allowed to grow up to 6 plants, 3 of which can be mature. For now, buying or selling weed, as well as smoking in public will still be illegal. Possessing pot on federal land will also remain illegal, so avoid visiting the Lincoln Memorial with weed on hand. Transferring up to an ounce of weed will be allowed, as long as there is no money involved.
The enactment of this initiative did however come with some strong resistance from congress. House Republicans Jason Chaffetz, and Rep. Mark Meadows, wrote a letter to Mayor Muriel Bower late Tuesday night, warning that the city would be violating federal law, suggesting legal consequences if Bowser were to proceed with her plans to implement initiative 71. Chaffetz made a statement to the Washington Post stating, “if they are under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong. And they are very serious consequences for violating this provision. You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser who seemed composed and unperturbed, brushed off the threats, and countered the attacks gracefully, during the announcement of the new law on live television. “A lot of reasonable people have a different view of the issue, Bowser said. “I have a lot of things to do here in the District of Columbia and me being in jail wouldn’t be a good thing.”
Several other political leaders in support of initiative 71 voiced their opinions in defiance of the congressional warning. D.C. council member Charles Allen said, “we have had solid legal ground this whole time on how to follow this initiative…This has nothing to do with marijuana. This is about the autonomy of the District and the will of the District voters. Quite frankly, I think it’s a perversion of democracy, what they are trying to do.” Democratic council member Vincent Orange added, “at this point it is too late for the mayor to do an about-face. This is an important moment for the city…This is not the time to blink. We are on solid legal footing and should go forward with legalization and let the courts decide.”
In spite of bullying by house reps, the chances that Obama’s Justice Department would prosecute Mayor Bowser are slim to none. She held her ground and possession and growing of marijuana is now legal in Washington D.C.