Republicans in Congress Threaten DC Mayor with Arrest If She Pushes Marijuana Through

The nation's capitol is set to legalize marijuana at midnight.

Photo Credit: Luis Carlos Jimenez del rio / Shutterstock.com

Even as the nation's capital moves to implement the will of its voters and legalize the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana at midnight tonight, a pair of congressional Republican hard-liners are threatening Mayor Muriel Bowser with the prospect of arrest for doing so.

In a letter to Mayor Bowser sent yesterday, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), argued that it is illegal for the District to move forward with legalization. They said that a rider attached to a federal appropriations bill barred the District to use any funds to enact marijuana legalization.

DC officials disagree. They say the law was enacted by the voters voting for it back in November. If Congress wants to block implementation of legalization in the District, it has to act before a 30-day review period is up by passing a Resolution of Disapproval and getting the president to sign it. That 30-day period ends today, and Congress has not acted.

But that doesn't stop Chaffetz and Meadows from asserting that the rider blocks enactment of the pot law and threatening Bowser with arrest. “If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” they warned in the letter.

But Bowser and other city officials say they are committed to carrying out the will of the voters. Will Chaffetz and Meadows act on their threats? That could bring on a real show down between the District and Congress. 


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Phillip Smith has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. Smith is currently a senior writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute