Biden Touts Different Approach To Marijuana But Continues To Block Launch Of DC Weed Sales

President Biden decided once again to exclude Washington, D.C. from legalizing recreational cannabis sales as part of the budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024, reported Marijuana Moment.

The Biden-Harris administration submitted the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Budget request to Congress last week. The document still maintains the appropriations rider preventing Justice Department interference in the state- and territory-level medical marijuana programs. 

The D.C. cannabis provision has been blocking the nation’s capital from using its own local tax dollars to implement a legal recreational cannabis sales program, even though DC voters overwhelmingly approved cannabis legalization in 2014.

Cannabis advocates have repeatedly urged officials to formally adopt a non-compliance policy to allow Washington, D.C. to legalize cannabis sales despite the congressional ban.

Drug Policy Alliance backed by more than 50 criminal justice reform, business, labor and drug policy organizations, urged key House and Senate appropriators, along with former Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi a year ago, demanding to keep the removal of the appropriations rider. In November, the same organization, now with even greater support, sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland in November, saying they want the Department of Justice (DOJ) to treat D.C. as the “functionally equivalent to the non-enforcement approach it has traditionally taken with respect to the states that have reformed their laws allowing for the taxation and regulation of the adult use of cannabis.”

New D.C. Cannabis Sales Bill: Up to $80,000 In Compensation For Victims Of Past Marijuana Laws

To that end, Phil Mendelson (D), chairman of the Council of DC, introduced a new bill in January that would legalize and regulate the sales of recreational cannabis in the district.

The legislation, co-signed by Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, Anita Bonds, Christina Henderson, Robert C. White, Jr. and Brooke Pinto, is similar to a measure presented about two years ago. It seeks to create a new reparations fund that would allow for payments of up to $80,000 to those who were previously arrested, convicted or incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses.

However, this measure will have to wait for passage and implementation as well, at least until the ban on allowing legal recreational cannabis sales is lifted.

Biden’s New Approach To Cannabis

After announcing he would pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession in October, Biden signed a marijuana research bill into law some two months later, making history by enacting the first piece of standalone federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history.

Photo: Benzinga edit of images by Adam Schultz on Wikimedia Commons and Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsMarketsGeneralcannabis salesChuck SchumerDrug Policy AllianceJoe Bidenmarijuana salesMerrick GarlandNancy PelosiPhil MendelsonWashington D.C.
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