A strict reading of the Omnibus Budget that was just signed into law prevents the District from expending any funds to enact Initiative 71 which legalizes a specified amount of marijuana in the District. While there is dispute as to whether or not the Initiative has already been enacted part of the administrative process with all District laws is to have the law transmitted to Congress. In order to transmit the bill to Congress it requires minimal staff time and administrative work but both come with a cost thus potentially violating the law.
Council Chair Phil Mendelson has the duty under the Home Rule Act to transmit Initiative 71 to Congress and thus he could be breaking the law by doing so. Whether it’s a legal or illegal transmittal this situation provides a wonderfully symbolic avenue to grandstand. Usually a transmittal to Congress is a quite no-frills affair but in this case we should do the exact opposite.
Chairman Mendelson should let his colleagues on the Council and District citizens know when he plans on transmitting the bill to Congress and we all should do it in person with him. Let’s have the entire Council joined by District citizens march with Phil from the Wilson Building to Capitol Hill and personally deliver Initiative 71 to Speaker Boehner’s office. If Chairman Mendelson does run the risk of breaking the law let’s walk with him, let’s support him, and let’s show Congress that we are all in this together.
Let’s transmit that bill together and send a powerful message to Congress and the President that we respect ourselves and we respect the vote of the people of the District and we won’t back down.