A coalition of local, state and national advocacy organizations is asking the U.S. attorney general to formally adopt a policy of non-enforcement to allow Washington, D.C. to legalize marijuana sales even in light of an ongoing ban enacted by Congress.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, activists said they want DOJ to take an approach to D.C. that is “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.”
While federal law still prohibits marijuana, the Justice Department during the last several presidential administrations has generally taken a hands-off approach to state cannabis programs. But the District faces additional restrictions under a congressional spending bill rider that prevents the local government from using its local tax dollars to implement a system of regulated marijuana commerce.
The letter, led by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and signed by 74 other organizations, says that the rider and the related Anti-Deficiency Act mandating budget compliance means D.C. “is only jurisdiction in the country that cannot regulate marijuana sales or fruitfully tap into the public health and safety benefits of proper regulation.”
D.C. legalized marijuana possession, cultivation and gifting for adult use through a ballot initiative in 2014, but there’s currently no regulated…