Could Pot Become Legal in Nation’s Capital?

by Hannah Hess, Roll Call
April 6, 2014

When D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton immediately jumped in to say she would defend the effort in Congress.

Congress could overturn the measure with a bill of its own. But with a shift in public opinion and recent pot policy changes nationally, some are predicting the nation’s lawmakers will ignore the change in their own backyard.

“Taking a hard anti-marijuana position is not likely to help them get elected anymore,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, handicapping the prospect of Congress halting the bill.

A poll released April 2 by the Pew Research Center proves Riffle’s point. The nationwide survey showed that, for the second year in a row, a majority of Americans, 54 percent, supported making marijuana legal. The center’s analysis shows more and more states are acting to revise drug laws. Between 2009 and 2013, 40 states took some action to ease their drug laws.

D.C. Councilmember David Grosso thinks members of Congress — who could pass a freestanding disapproval resolution in both the House and the Senate and send it President Barack Obama for his signature — won’t bother.

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