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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Thanks National Organizations for Supporting D.C.’s Right to Commercialize Recreational Marijuana

Nov 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today thanked 18 national organizations that wrote to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees urging Congress to remove the rider that prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds to commercialize recreational marijuana.  The letter, released yesterday, notes that the District overwhelmingly voted in 2014 to legalize recreational marijuana, but that Congress has blocked D.C. from using its local funds to commercialize recreational marijuana.  The letter also notes that regulating recreational marijuana would “free up law enforcement resources to focus on reducing violent crime.”  In June, Norton led the House in passing its historic FY 2020 D.C. Appropriations bill, which for the first time in history contained no anti-home-rule riders, including the prohibition on using local funds to commercialize recreational marijuana.

“It is beyond unreasonable that congressional interference keeps only the District of Columbia from commercializing recreational marijuana while all other jurisdictions are free to do so,” Norton said.  “Thank you to the 18 national organizations for their leadership and for their advocacy on behalf of D.C.’s 700,000 residents, who should have the right to govern themselves, as residents of all states and cities do.”

In their letter, the coalition writes: “The District of Columbia is one of a dozen jurisdictions that have voted to legalize marijuana for adult use.  Yet, the District is the only jurisdiction that cannot regulate marijuana sales.  Congress and the Department of Justice have allowed other states like Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California, among others, to exercise their sovereign right to set policy and function as laboratories of democracy; the District of Columbia should be allowed to use local taxpayers’ funds to support local needs as well.”

The letter concludes: “There are more than 700,000 residents living in the District of Columbia; Congress should follow the spirit of the Home Rule Act, and allow them to set their own local laws. It is time for Congress to support the District of Columbia’s right to self-determination and lift the rider prohibiting them from regulating marijuana.”

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