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Congress blocks D.C. from creating new cannabis regulations


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Though Washington, D.C. voted to legalize cannabis in 2014, the city has had trouble regulating cannabis due to the fact Congress controls much of what it can or cannot do. This became more apparent recently when Republicans in Congress stopped an effort to expand its legalization law.

“It is very frustrating that the 535… members of Congress can control what the 700,000 people of the District of Columbia can or cannot do,” Nikolas R. Schiller, co-founder of DCMJ, told Cannabis News Box. “D.C. residents do not have Senators or Representatives, only a non-voting delegate. Due to an error in the Constitution, specifically, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, the Constitution creates a Congressional fiefdom in the seat of government known as the District of Columbia, and while the Constitution was amended once (#23) to partially rectify this undemocratic issue, there is still more to be done when it comes to fully extending the rights and privileges to all U.S. citizens in the 50 States and territories.”

Schiller said the local District Council needs to be in charge of much-needed drug policy reform so residents can have power over the city they live in. He said the fact they cannot make their own decisions causes many problems. One problem he cited is that D.C. has a serious HIV problem, and Congress prevented it from starting a needle exchange, which could have helped fix the issue.

“Congress doesn’t care about the people of the District of Columbia,” Schiller said. “They would rather not allow something to happen in D.C. that cannot happen in their home state instead of allowing the District of Columbia to be a true laboratory of democracy. It’s rare for a member of Congress who represents a state that has legalization to support overturning or undermining DC laws with respect to cannabis. What Congress does to the people of the District of Columbia has no bearing on the people they represent, so they don’t have to worry about any fallout.”

DCMJ is currently canvassing and phone banking to replace Rep. Andy Harris, who has been part of this problem, by electing a small business owner named Allison Galbraith who says she wants to give more power to D.C. residents. If they are successful, D.C. residents may finally get the voice they’ve long been waiting for.

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