Hypocrisy reigns supreme on the local political front, with Joe Biden and the federal government continuously touting their progress on cannabis and reforms while stonewalling the formation of a legal sales framework in their own backyard of Washington, D.C.
This was reported in local news, with headlines in the marijuana space stating that Biden continues to block marijuana sales while promoting the idea of taking new approaches to marijuana policies.
D.C’s Autonomy On Marijuana Commerce Targeted
Biden’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 has recently seen the budget appendix propose keeping riders to safeguard the legal hemp industry from the looming federal intervention that itches to get involved. The proposal also originates from efforts to limit funding to promote Schedule 1 drug legalization.
Furthermore, the refusal by the president to request the lifting of the D.C. cannabis provision has been received with disappointment. Now the District cannot use local tax dollars for system implementation regarding adult-use marijuana sales.
Cannabis legalization has already seen approval from voters, but obstacles now see lawmakers unable to enact commerce legislation. All this shows how the administration’s support for the District’s statehood has been met with an undermined sovereignty concerning the marijuana policy.
With recent events regarding the proposed budget, it’s clear that D.C. will not spend local funds on marijuana commercialization.
On a separate note, advocates recently expressed their deep frustrations regarding the routine inclusion of an appropriations rider for the Department of Labor. This sees the prohibition of funding for activities that promote the legalization of drugs and other substances included in Schedule I of the Schedules of Controlled Substances. The inclusion would cease should significant medical evidence of a therapeutic advantage emerge or unless a federally sponsored clinical trial into the drug was performed.
This Is Not The First Obstacle
District lawmakers have continued growing cannabis access, but the path has been stifled and bound. Legislation in January, containing provisions to codify that adults can self-certify as medical marijuana patients without a doctor’s recommendation, circumvented the congressional blockade. New cannabis sales measures are introduced by lawmakers and are discussed regularly, but these measures are never enacted.
Hopes to see Biden remove a particular D.C. rider regarding a mass marijuana pardon for individuals who’d committed federal possession offenses saw the undertaking of an administrative review into cannabis scheduling.
Now, Biden’s 2024 budget request maintains a separate rider who will prevent the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with state-wide medical cannabis program implementation. To this end, other administrations have proposed that the language herein be scrapped. With this in mind, Biden continues to put forward his constitutional responsibility to local law execution over marijuana sales.
Other Goals Set Out In Biden’s Budget
It is proposed within Biden’s latest budget that $15 million should be allocated to funding that will support 2023 industrial hemp production. This proposed item sees the continuation of longstanding riders’ protection of state programs from federal intervention.
Biden’s budget also proposes to push the removal of the word ‘abuse’ from drug-focused agency names within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Removing the word would result in a subsequent rebranding of these agencies to the Substance Use And Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Alcohol Effects and Alcohol-Associated Disorders, and National Institute on Drugs and Addiction.
Whether these goals will be met or actions to reach them be stifled again is unknown, but hopes remain strong.
A Possible Model For Federal Government Interactions with Progressive States?
With all this going on on the political front, the question now arises of whether or not this situation could be a potential model for how the federal government could interact with cities and states that are more progressive on cannabis. It also begs the question of how the federal government will find a practical approach to facilitate changes at a faster, more uniform nature than the patchwork of regulations currently in place across the country.
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