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Despite Congressional Blockade, D.C. Lawmakers File Marijuana Sales Bill With Reparations Funding For Criminalization Victims

Washington, D.C. lawmakers have filed a revised bill to create a regulated adult-use marijuana market, despite an ongoing congressional ban that blocks the District from enacting the reform.

The legislation, introduced by District Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and six other councilmembers, is largely consistent with an earlier version that received a hearing last year but was not ultimately enacted—though it includes a new reparations provision to provide direct payments to people who have been harmed by cannabis criminalization.

While D.C. voters legalized low-level cannabis possession, home cultivation and gifting through a ballot initiative in 2014, there’s currently no system of regulated sales. A congressional spending bill rider from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) that continues to be reenacted by Congress under both Republican and Democratic control prevents the District from using its local tax dollars to implement a commercial marijuana market.

There were hopes that lawmakers would remove the prohibition from the latest appropriations package that passed last month, but even with Democratic majorities in both chambers last session, the language was ultimately kept in the bill—with the support of the Biden administration.

As such, the local government in the nation’s capital can’t enact the new cannabis regulation bill without

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