Civic Disobedience

On February 9th, 2015 there will be a Joint Public Hearing of the D.C. Council that we all should attend and testify at. While the hearing’s focus will be about legislation to tax and regulate marijuana I have no intention of discussing either bill. To me the hearing is about respecting democracy and good government. I don’t care whether we’re too smart by half over what the word ‘enact’ means because congressional intent was clear: they want to overturn a ballot measure supported by 70% of the people who voted on the Initiative and prevent any future action on it.

The budget act had text that forbade the District from using federal or LOCAL funds “to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or reduce penalties associated with the possession, use or distribution.” While the enactment of Initiative 71 is up for debate this joint hearing which would develop regulations would seem to violate the budget act since there’s no debate that regulations and a tax system were not in place when the budget act became law. I am glad the Council is standing up to Congress and it’s about time.

Year after year Congress has forbidden the District from implementing numerous policies that the citizens and our elected leaders have thought best for the city. It’s time to stand up to Congress or just flat out ignore them and that’s what this joint public hearing will do. Our Councilmembers and their staff could potentially be violating the Anti-Deficiency Act simply by holding a hearing about setting up a tax and regulatory system. If our Councilmembers run the risk of breaking the law by simply acting to set up a sound regulatory structure for something enacted by the citizens through referendum then we the citizens should be there at the hearing to stand with them.

I will be testifying on February 9th but I won’t be discussing or addressing the bills before the Council. I’ll be there to condemn Congress, thank the Council, and to speak up for myself as someone who believes deeply that we in the District deserve to be treated fairly and equally with the 50 states as the 51st state. If we want to “Free DC” we need to start acting from a liberation mindset and no longer accept unjust and undemocratic action by Congress as the end of policy debates and decisions. This hearing is just one moment where we can begin to show that we will no longer accept the tampering, meddling, and undemocratic intrusions from Congress. This is not about pot, this is about democracy and on February 9th I hope we all will take a few minutes to stand with the Council and stand up for ourselves by testifying at the hearing.

See you at the John A. Wilson Building in Room 500 at 10am! If you want to testify please contact Faye Caldwell at or (202) 727-6683.

Josh Burch


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