Upon the release of the appropriation bills on Monday, October 18, 20211, by the Senate Appropriations Committee, NBC Washington revealed that the Harris Rider, preventing the sale of recreational marijuana, was no longer included. Following this, D.C. residents are moving closer to finally being able to legally purchase cannabis for recreational use.

According to Marijuana Moment, the move by the Senate Appropriations Committee was in violation of the budget request set out by President Joe Biden.

 Budget Bill Moves D.C. Closer to Legalizing Marijuana Sales

The move from the Senate appropriations bills comes seven years after the Congress blocked the city government from spending its budget towards legalizing and regulating the sales of adult-use cannabis, reports Forbes, although D.C. voters have made marijuana use legal for adults in 2014.

The man responsible for the said Harris Rider was no other than then Maryland Congressman Andy Harris who added the provision to the appropriations bill. WUSA9 said that the addition of the provision aimed to prevent teenage consumption of cannabis and the protection of teenagers against drug use.

Apart from the removal of the Harris rider, the legislation also saw changes to other cannabis-related provisions. These include a call to “continue an existing protection for state medical marijuana laws, call on the federal government to reconsider policies that fire employees for cannabis, criticize the restrictive drug classification system that impedes scientific research and encourage the development of technologies to detect THC-impaired driving,” reports Marijuana Moment.

Following the public release of the appropriations bills, pro-marijuana activist Adam Eidinger celebrated the change, saying that “It’s been a seven-year struggle to get to this point, to remove this rider, and Democrats have been helpful. They really delivered last night.”

“We have to move forward, and the Congress helped us last night – actually did something for D.C. last night,” continued Eidinger in his remarks. Eidinger was a key player in helping make recreational cannabis use and possession legal for adults through Initiative 71, notes NBC Washington.

Senate Democrats played a central role in the removal of the Harris rider. Alongside this, the Washington Post revealed that the committee also removed a rider that prevented the local government of the District of Columbia to use its budget to subsidize abortions for low-income individuals.

However, the Washington Post said that Republicans will not easily back off from these changes, especially with the requirement of finding a minimum of 10 Republicans to join and support their initiatives.

The funding released is set to expire on December 3, 2021, however, Marijuana Moment states that Democrats plan to finalize all 2022 appropriations before that time.

As the District of Columbia prepares to hear proposals on the legalization of cannabis and recreational marijuana sales in the area by November 21, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson voiced his approval for the removal of the rider saying, “We hope that, as the bill moves through the Senate, no rider language is inserted so we can honor the will of District voters and set up a safe, equitable recreational cannabis market.”

 Budget Bill Moves D.C. Closer to Legalizing Marijuana Sales.

Mayor Muriel Bowser also shared the sentiments with her office releasing a statement and recognizing that the move is “a step in the right direction,” shares WUSA9.

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