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Congressional Committee Votes To Continue Blocking D.C. From Legalizing Marijuana Sales



A GOP-controlled House committee has voted to maintain a federal ban blocking Washington, D.C. from creating a system of regulated adult-use marijuana sales.

At a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday, members approved an en bloc package of Republican amendments to the 2025 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending legislation that reinserted the D.C. cannabis rider that had previously  been omitted from the base bill at the subcommittee level.

This marks another major setback for advocates, as the full committee also voted on Thursday to remove a section of the bill that would’ve provided limited marijuana banking protections.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and chair of the Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee, said he intends to find alternative avenues to advancing cannabis banking legislation. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his decision to include the D.C. marijuana rider in the en bloc amendment he filed on behalf of committee Republicans, however.

Here’s the language

“SEC. 8XX. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

(b) No funds available for obligation or expenditure by the District of Columbia government under any authority may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.”

The District has been barred from using its local tax dollars to legalize recreational cannabis sales since 2014, when Congress first adopted the rider from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who is a member of the Appropriations Committee. It’s been annually renewed each year since, but advocates were initially encouraged to see it removed from the base bill before it was amended out.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said in a press release on Friday that while she’s “pleased to have achieved some victories for D.C. in the bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee yesterday,” she’s “outraged by the anti-home-rule riders and committee report provisions,” calling the reinsertion of the cannabis rider a particularly problematic development.

The congresswoman said she will work to remove anti-home rule riders as the bill moves through the legislative process.

President Joe Biden has consistently maintained the D.C. ban in his budget proposals, which made it all the more notable that it was originally omitted from a version in a GOP-controlled subcommittee.

The same appropriations subcommittee under Democratic control similarly omitted the D.C. cannabis sales ban and included the banking section in a spending bill for fiscal year 2022, but it did not make it into the final package.

Both the House and Senate had excluded the marijuana rider in their respective versions of appropriations legislation in 2022 before it was ultimately retained following bicameral and bipartisan negotiations.

Lawmakers in the District have enacted certain workarounds, including allowing people to self-certify as medical marijuana patients, but the congressional blockade has been a consistent source of frustration.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Meanwhile the House approved a large-scale defense bill on Friday that includes a section to prevent military branches from testing recruits for marijuana as a condition of enlistment has been left intact, despite opposition from the White House.

Prior to that, however, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday also rejected proposed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent security clearance denials based on past marijuana use and codify that military servicemembers can’t be penalized for using or possessing federally legal hemp products and allow veterans to access state medical marijuana programs and eliminate a VA directive barring the department’s doctors from issuing cannabis recommendations.

While the panel didn’t allow the VA-specific amendment to advance as part of the NDAA, the reform was approved by the House last week as part of appropriations legislation covering Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilConVA).

New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Expansion Bills Head To Governor’s Desk As Recreational Legalization Measure Fails

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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