A rider who has effectively blocked recreational cannabis for years in Washington, DC is appearing in President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for 2022, perhaps leaving weed on the back burner again.
Although residents of DC voted to legalize possession of recreational marijuana in 2014, the measure has been in limbo ever since, derailed by a driver to the DC Credit Act first introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who forbids the district to spend its local funds on the commercialization of recreational cannabis, such as pharmacies. And Biden’s proposed budget for 2022 once again includes rider language.
Striker Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said in a statement she found it difficult to reconcile the Biden administration’s support for the state of DC with her budget that would prevent DC from marketing recreational cannabis. “With Democrats now controlling the White House, the House and the Senate, we have the best chance in more than a decade to pass a DC credit bill that doesn’t include anti-home-rule riders,” he said. Norton.
When asked if the president plans to remove language from the proposed budget, a Biden administration official said in an email: The edge that the president “continues to strongly support the state of DC, under which the people of DC can make policy choices just like other states.”
DC has long had a so-called “gray market” for marijuana, with medical cannabis legal and recreational cannabis technically legal, but cannot be taxed or regulated because of the Harris rider. DC voters first approved medical marijuana in 1998, but it was also initially blocked by the Barr Amendment, legislation that Congress eventually overturned in 2009.
Biden, once a leading voice in the “war on drugs‘ of the 1980s and ’90s, during the 2020 presidential campaign, said it was “time to decriminalize marijuana use,” but so far little action has been taken at the federal level during his administration. Dozens of US states have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both, and public opinion supporting legal weed is at an all-time high. And Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have said they would work together to promote a comprehensive cannabis reform.
In February, Mayor Muriel . from DC Bowser proposed legislation voorgestelde “to create an equitable adult-use cannabis program” in DC, which would impose a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales. But it is unlikely to come into effect if the rider remains in Biden’s proposed 2022 budget.