H.R.920 – Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015
114th Congress (2015-2016)

S.502 – Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015
114th Congress (2015-2016)

Korte, Gregory. “Bipartisan Sentencing Bill Gets White House Support.USA Today. Gannett, 25 Feb. 2015:  “President Obama is throwing his support behind a bipartisan proposal to change the nation’s sentencing laws by cutting many mandatory minimum sentences in half.

That commitment came out of a meeting with 16 members of Congress at the White House Tuesday night, called by the president to gather their ideas on how to overhaul the criminal justice system.

Members of Congress who attended said the main topic of conversation was the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders…”  [RESTOFSTORY]

Fields, Liz. “Marijuana Is About to Be Legal – and Virtually Unregulated – in Washington, DC” | VICE News.” VICE News RSS. VICE Media, 25 Feb. 2015.

“Pot smokers in Washington, DC, are about to face a dizzying predicament. Come Thursday, residents of the US capital will be able to legally possess two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. They can also trade or gift up to an ounce in pre-rolled joints, blunts, and the like. But they won’t be able to buy any of that weed legally.

The unusual situation is the result of political maneuvering by Congress to block Initiative 71, a ballot initiative to make marijuana possession legal for adults 21 and over that was approved in the November 2014 midterm election by 70 percent of DC voters.

A month after the initiative was approved, Congress, which controls DC’s budget, intervened by adding a “rider” to a massive federal spending bill. This small additional clause, that is seemingly unrelated to the rest of the spending bill, tried to prevent local officials from using federal funds to implement the initiative. Paradoxically, the same legislation also contained another amendment to stop the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana industries.

Thanks to Congress, entrepreneurs that hoped to take advantage of marijuana legalization in DC — the fourth part of the US to legalize the drug after Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska — might have to shelve their business plans, at least for a little while.

For the past 30 days, DC’s legalization plan has been undergoing a congressional review, which concludes Thursday. The end result will likely be that pot becomes legal but virtually unregulated in DC, meaning people will be trading — or “gifting” — their weed in a hazy zone of legal uncertainty.

Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization working to end pot prohibition, told VICE News that the policy gap between legalization and regulation is a misguided attempt by Congress to score political brownie points with their voters at the expense of states’ rights.

“We see this all the time — Congress using DC as a bully pulpit to enforce rules to gain political points with their constituents,” Fox said. “But in this case, DC voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization…”  [RESTOFSTORY]

Davis, Aaron C., and Peter Hermann. “Lawmakers Encourage Bowser to Reconsider Declaring Pot Legal in D.C.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2015.

“City leaders declared Tuesday that marijuana possession will become legal in the District at 12:01 a.m. Thursday — but warned the public that many pot-related activities will remain illegal, including selling the drug, growing it outdoors, possessing it in federally subsidized housing and smoking it anywhere in public.

In remarks to the D.C. Council, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier offered their first public guidance on Initiative 71 — when it will take effect, what it will mean and how it will be enforced — since the ballot measure was overwhelmingly approved in the fall…”

SO – The District voters voted.  They voted to decriminalize marijuana.  They voted to “refocus police resources.”  They passed Initiative 71.

But a democracy DC is [apparently] not …

As a Republican reminds:   “Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the committee that oversees D.C. legislation, said: “Federal law … confirms that D.C. cannot move forward. If they are under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong. And there are very severe consequences for violating this provision. You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here.

initiative 71 dc


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