President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget plan released last Friday, May 28, 2021, saw a continued ban on the sale of recreational marijuana in the District of Columbia. Biden’s plan, however, continues to maintain its long-standing policy that keeps medical marijuana protections in place, reveals Marijuana Moment.
According to The Washington Post, the president’s decision comes as a blow to many city leaders, particularly as the budget still bans the city from legalizing and taxing the sale of recreational marijuana.
Meanwhile, Marijuana Moment maintains that the move on President Biden’s decision was “perplexing,” given that he maintained in the past that states should have authority over the use and legalization of recreational marijuana.
The DCist states that the ban is otherwise called the Harris Rider and has since been contested by numerous activists and supporters ever since it was introduced in 2014. It has seen strong support from the likes of Representative Andy Harris from Maryland.
This has also seen the support of Mayor Muriel Bowser who introduced the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2021 this February. The Washington Post said that the legislation aimed to provide D.C. voters with a legal cannabis industry and a recreational cannabis market that can benefit victims of the war on drugs, especially as this would expunge criminal records for a number of marijuana-related convictions.
Following the proposed 2022 budget and the retained ban on recreational cannabis sales in D.C., Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement Monday, May 31, 2021, that “I am having a hard time reconciling the administration’s strong support for D.C. statehood, which would give D.C. note only voting representation in Congress but also full local self-government, with a budget that prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization.”
The congresswoman also said that the time is ripe for the White House, House, and Senate “to enact a D.C. appropriations bill that does not contain any anti-home-rule riders.” Despite the disappointing turn of events, however, Rep. Norton will continue to urge colleagues to remove the rider.
Other Inclusions Within the Proposed 2022 Budget
Of the $6 trillion budget plan by the Biden administration, $40 million will reportedly be allocated to payments to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities throughout the United States for residents of D.C., reports the DCist. In addition, a provision also allows the city to use its budget in times of a federal government shutdown.
While the ban on recreational marijuana sales is still in place, the Washington Post said that President Biden lifted a provision on the use of local tax dollars to cover abortion for women coming from low-income households or communities.
Current Marijuana Landscape in D.C.
As of writing, legal age residents of D.C. are now allowed to grow and possess small amounts of cannabis. This measure can be owed to the passage of Initiative 71 in 2014, where Voters from the District of Columbia have also shown support for the legalization of marijuana. Despite these strides, the city is still not open to the sale of recreational marijuana in dispensaries.
Medical marijuana, however, can be obtained by qualified D.C. residents and patients, provided they are treated and diagnosed by their physician accordingly.