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Frequently Asked Questions On Implementing DC’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative


washington dc marijuana legalizationQuestion: Does the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Omnibus),  which prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds “to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties” for marijuana, block D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative (Initiative 71), which allows the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana?

Answer: Most likely no.  D.C. can implement Initiative 71 after the expiration of the congressional review period unless a resolution of disapproval overturning it is enacted during that period or other legislation is enacted before, during or after that period that blocks or overturns it.

Question: Does the Omnibus prevent D.C. from implementing Initiative 71?

Answer: Most likely no.  The plain meaning of the provision and principles of statutory interpretation support implementation of the initiative.  The original version of the provision said D.C. may not “enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties” for marijuana.  “Carry out” was dropped from the Omnibus.

Question: Does Congress need to take additional action for Initiative 71 to take effect?

Answer:  No.  Under the D.C. Home Rule Act of 1973, an initiative “shall take effect” upon the expiration of the congressional review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted during that period, in which case the initiative “shall be deemed to have [been]repealed”.  A measure can be repealed only if it had been enacted in the first place.

Question:  Does D.C. need to enact additional laws or regulations to implement Initiative 71?

Answer: Most likely no.  The initiative is self-executing by its terms.  It requires no additional enactment of laws or regulations to be implemented.

Question: Has Initiative 71 already been enacted?

Answer: Most likely yes.  Initiative 71 was enacted when it was approved by voters in November 2014.

Question: Do Members of Congress and Leadership support the position that D.C. has a strong legal case for implementing Initiative 71?

Answer: Yes.  Many of the Omnibus’ negotiators believe D.C. can implement the initiative, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey and House Appropriations D.C. Subcommittee Ranking Member Jose Serrano.

Source: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton


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Johnny Green


  1. I find reading these post very interesting. I think so very smart people visit this blog. In my opinion in 2016 over half of the states In the union will have medical marijuana. The Jennie is out of the bottle. You even have the crazy Republicans to support a law not to allow the Federal Govt. raid clinics and growers. Its happening and I am delighted. I am a m63 and I can’t sleep without it. I only smoke at night before bed. I finally am able to sleep through the night. I have several friends in the 60;s that use for medical issues.

    PS to the lady in Cinn. I met a kid in Pizza shop its everywhere good luck.

    thanks for letting me share

  2. No matter how I look at this the bill was placed into service on Election Day when the people overwhelming voted yes for 71 ……

    I suspect the cops have already lighted up and unless you are down right being open and growing in front of a front window you’ll be ok …..

    Now we just need to get the entire mess officialized ….. Any Press received, good or bad, is nothing but good for the legalization of the USA and repeal of Schedule One Status …..

    There are many forces and fronts being attacked and eventually the entire US Federal Laws will remove marijuana as a criminal offense ……

    Now they may try to regulate and say you can only grow x amount and you can’t sell the stuff without paying taxes on it ……

    The problem is one can grow a huge amount of something that is valuable and sell it without paying taxes and that is a problem ….. Uncle Sam does not mind you growing a few extra tomatoes and taking down to the Farmers Market and not recording the sale as he knows it is a lot of work and not much profit, if any but with weed that is a way different animal …..

    It all comes down to the money and big business ….. Everything from the Cops to the Jailers to the Drug Companies ….. All lobbing Congress for NO VOTES …..

    It will take a little more time but headway is being made, hang in there!

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