White House: Cannabis Policy a States’ Rights Issue

In a statement made yesterday the Obama Administration announced that it strongly opposes Republican efforts to block a cannabis decriminalizationwhitehouse1 law from taking effect in Washington D.C., claiming that cannabis policy is a “states’ rights issue”.

“The Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally- passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule”, said the White House in a prepared statement. “Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

On June 25th, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Representative Andy Harris that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed which decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of cannabis. If included in the 2015 federal budget, the amendment would block the District from carrying out any law or regulation that would reduce the penalty for cannabis.

“That Congressman Andy Harris would try to kill D.C.’s efforts to stop arresting people for marijuana possession is beyond disturbing,” says Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This amendment is an affront to the District’s right to home rule, while ensuring that thousands of District residents continue to be arrested and suffer the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record. Congress should be following D.C.’s example and end racist marijuana arrest policies, instead of defying the will of the people and reversing their decision.”

The announcement from the Obama Administration is one of the clearest statements the President has made regarding a localities ability to determine their own cannabis policies.


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