According to ABC News, President Obama approves of the D.C. law to legalize pot use, and believes that Congress should stay out of local D.C. governance. The comment was addressing a provision of the year-end spending bill that will prevent Washington D.C. from enacting its marijuana laws by cutting off funding. Even though the president disapproves of the rider, overall he does approve of the compromised spending bill and will sign it when and if it gets out of Congress.
Time Magazine described Congress’ recent stance on pot a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, the spending bill does specify that law enforcement can no longer use federal funds for marijuana busts. On the other, it effectively overrules local D.C. pot laws, which were approved of by 70 percent of D.C. voters.
President Obama seemed to be sending his own mixed message, explaining through his press secretary that he does not like Congress curbing the will of the D.C. voters, but he’d still sign a spending bill that curbs the will of the D.C. voters.
“This administration has been a strong supporter of the District of Columbia getting statehood,” secretary Earnest explained, “we do not believe that Congress should spend a lot of time interfering with the ability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to make decisions related to how they should govern their community.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill has a number of controversial provisions, like restricting the environmental protection agency and delaying certain financial regulations from the Dodd-Frank laws. But the Obama administration sees the compromise as worth it to fund the government for a full fiscal year and prevent another costly government shutdown.
Still, plenty of locals are not happy to see their vote overturned as part of a federal bargain. Recreational pot advocate Allen St. Pierre sees the move as hypocritical.
“Republicans see D.C. as so rock-solid Democratic that they won’t give it the autonomy they are otherwise willing to grant states.”
For other areas that have legalized pot use, the spending bill should come as a breath of fresh air. In Washington State, the voters passed a law legalizing pot use, only to leave many people in a kind of legal gray zone, as federal officials still attempted occasional busts. At least for those users, the spending bill will bring some relief.
President Obama will face new situations where compromise is necessary, especially in February, when Republicans plan to fight his executive orders on immigration. In the end, the D.C. pot issue may seem minor by comparison.
[Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons]