Pot Backers Oppose U.S. Bill Banning Legal MJ 
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Pot Backers Oppose U.S. Bill Banning Legal MJ 
Posted by CN Staff on December 10, 2014 at 15:55:37 PT
By Ian Simpson
Source: Reuters
Washington, D.C. -- Marijuana advocates on Wednesday urged Congress not to use a spending bill to overturn a local referendum that overwhelmingly backed legalizing pot in the District of Columbia.A $1.1 trillion spending bill negotiated by lawmakers on Tuesday barred the U.S. capital from using funds to implement Initiative 71, which legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in Washington.
Voters easily approved the measure last month but Congress has the power to restrict municipal spending. A provision in the bill bars any spending by the District of Columbia to legalize or reduce penalties for marijuana.Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district's non-voting representative in Congress, said in a statement that the amendment on marijuana was unclear.She said she would try to have it removed from the spending bill before the full House of Representatives and Senate vote on it. The measure funds federal agencies that otherwise would run out of money at midnight on Thursday."The District of Columbia government and its residents should never be put in the position of uncertainty of any kind about any of their local laws," Norton said.Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said Initiative 71 was a civil rights issue since blacks made up 90 percent of district marijuana arrests even though non-blacks used pot at similar rates."D.C. voters chose to reform their marijuana laws, which have a direct impact on how communities of color interact with police. Congress should not undermine this," he said in a statement.Some Republican lawmakers, led by Representative Andy Harris of Maryland, had balked at legalization in Washington. The city has one of the lightest U.S. penalties for pot possession, although marijuana is illegal under federal law.The bill's text appears to block decriminalization in the district as well but a summary of its provisions on the House Appropriations Committee's website only indicates that it intended to block legalization.The White House warned Congress in July to leave the District of Columbia alone on legalization. But with prompt passage of the funding bill essential to avoiding a government shutdown, the legislation is not expected to be held up over the marijuana measure.Speaker John Boehner predicted the House would approve the measure on Thursday.Editing by Bill TrottSource: Reuters (Wire)Author: Ian SimpsonPublished: December 10, 2014Copyright: 2014 Thomson ReutersCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives 
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