White House thinks Congress should stay out of D.C. and states’ marijuana law


An employee pulls marijuana out of a large canister for a customer at the LoDo Wellness Center in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg)

The White House wants Congress to stay out of D.C.’s decision to decriminalize some possession of marijuana.

A Maryland Republican added an amendment into an appropriations bill that has some control over the District’s budget, forbidding the local government from using any federal funds to enact its new pot policies. Rep. Andy Harris, explaining his position, told The Washington Post that pot is “poison to a teenager’s brain.”

But the Obama administration thinks Congress shouldn’t involve itself, and in a statement criticizing the entire Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, it lists the marijuana amendment as one of many reasons why the president would veto the bill if it came to his desk (which it won’t because the Senate won’t pass it as is).

“The Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule.  Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District,” says the Office of Management and Budget statement released Monday night.

Saying that marijuana laws is a states issue is consistent with the Obama administration’s actions on the issue so far. In August 2013, the Justice Department announced it would not challenge Colorado and Washington laws legalizing marijuana even though the drug is still illegal federally.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.

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