GOP Congress Shows Little Interest in Blocking Pot
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GOP Congress Shows Little Interest in Blocking Pot
Posted by CN Staff on November 17, 2014 at 19:47:10 PT
By Aaron Davis
Source: Washington Post
Washington, D.C. -- Looming over the District’s historic decision this month to legalize marijuana has been another mandate that voters delivered on Election Day: A Republican majority on Capitol Hill with the power to interfere with the measure when it goes to Congress for review.But congressional Republicans appear to have other things on their minds. “To be honest, that’s pretty far down my list of priorities,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was maneuvering late last week to force a vote on U.S.-Iran nuclear talks.
“I haven’t given it one thought,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who CNN reported Friday was mapping out a presidential run.“Focused on other things,” added Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who will lead Senate oversight of the country’s military campaigns in Iraq and Syria when Republicans regain control of the chamber in January for the first time in seven years.Republicans also are focused on making good on promises for early battles with President Obama on immigration and to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. In all, in the first days of Congress’s return to Capitol Hill since the election, there appeared to be little to no appetite for Republicans to pile on the vexing issue of marijuana legalization.In fact, Republican congressional leaders may keep marijuana off their plate in the new year by design, said Cully Stimson, a senior legal fellow who tracks the issue for the conservative Heritage Foundation.Nationwide, 23 states allow sales of marijuana for medical purposes; lawmakers in 18 states have stripped away jail time for possession, and four states, including red Alaska, have gone as far as to legalize pot. Gaining consensus among Republicans to upend a similar law in the District, Cully said, could force party leaders to spend political capital that they would like to use elsewhere. As the party sets its sights on retaking the White House in 2016, it also could expose a muddling rift within the GOP base between social conservatives and libertarians.Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), celebrated in libertarian circles, said on Election Day that the D.C. measure was an issue for city voters to decide. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a favorite of family-values groups, has repeatedly blasted Obama for not enforcing federal drug laws.Last week, as Republican leaders preached party unity and a need for teamwork to defeat Obama on broader issues, Paul and Cruz declined to comment on the D.C. marijuana measure.“The preferred option may just be to not divide the Republican caucus on a divisive issue,” Stimson said. “Democrats and pro-pot advocates will work to cleave off libertarian-leaning Republicans. I could see [House Speaker John A.] Boehner . . . or [soon-to-be Senate majority leader] Mitch McConnell saying, ‘We’re just not going to bring it up.’ I could see it playing out that way politically.”Stimson, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, said a brawl between conservative and libertarian factions within the GOP is inevitable later next year, when Congress must decide whether to reauthorize provisions of the Patriot Act that allow for domestic surveillance. “Do you really want to pick at that scab too early?”Such political considerations seem poised to benefit the almost 7 in 10 D.C. voters who backed Initiative 71. The ballot measure that passed Nov. 4 legalizes possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in the nation’s capital. It also allows city residents to grow up to three mature plants at home.D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said he intends to codify the initiative into law and transmit it to Capitol Hill for review early in January.That would start the clock ticking on a 30- to 60-day review period.Unless Congress acts to block it during that window, marijuana legalization would then become law. Such a block has happened only three times in 40 years, and it would require not only the House and Senate to both pass a bill, but the president to sign off on the congressional measure halting the District’s law.What is more likely is that conservative lawmakers will continue to try to subvert the D.C. law through annual federal spending measures, as they have with gun limits and abortion.Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican who represents Maryland’s Eastern Shore, succeeded over the summer in persuading fellow House Republicans to back a measure precluding the District from spending its own money to take any step weakening enforcement of federal marijuana laws.That language remains part of an active House spending bill, but Senate Democrats have vowed not to accept it, and Obama has suggested he would veto a measure containing such language.Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), a nonvoting member of the House, said proponents will have to remain vigilant in coming weeks to make sure the amendment by Harris does not find its way into the final spending bill that Congress must pass by mid-December.Even if it is kept out this year, the District’s marijuana law could be subject to another round of uncertainty next year during the congressional budget process — even before it takes effect.D.C. Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser (D) has said she wants the effective date of the District’s marijuana legalization to be delayed until city lawmakers settle on a regulatory framework to sell and tax the drug.Such a scheme would also have to pass congressional review, pushing the likely date of the enactment of both marijuana measures into late 2015, and with first legal sales not likely before 2016.That delayed timeline would almost certainly give Harris another chance next year to upend the measure before any pot is sold.One Republican, however, joined Holmes Norton last week in urging Republicans to sidestep the issue.“Wake up!” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) at a Capitol Hill news conference, flanked by lawmakers from Oregon and Colorado, where voters have also legalized pot. “The American people are shifting on this issue.”A former press secretary and speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, Rohrabacher seized on the libertarian arguments for legalizing marijuana.“The fundamental principles are individual liberty, which Republicans have always talked about; limited government, which Republicans have always talked about; the doctor-patient relationship, which, of course, we have been stressing a lot lately; and of course, states’ rights,” he said.“To my fellow Republicans, this is going to help you politically,” Rohrabacher said. “If I can’t appeal to you on your philosophical nature, come on over for just raw politics — the numbers are going this way now.”Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Aaron DavisPublished: November 16, 2014Copyright: 2014 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on November 19, 2014 at 10:41:34 PT
this is absolutely huge and shows how far we've come! This DC law is simply devastating to prohibitionists! Any person anywhere in America can point to Washington, DC and say "cannabis is legal THERE!"  Imagine what's going to happen when our diplomatic and financial people try to continue bullying the 3rd world over their MJ laws and enforcement.This victory has literally stripped off the Emperor's clothes for the whole world to see!
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on November 18, 2014 at 06:36:50 PT:
It's starting to sink in
The new political reality. A new electorate has arrived. One that sees cannabis re-legalization as a litmus test of how intelligent(politically, at least) a pol is. Fail it, and your opponent wins.A 'quick and dirty' means of determining if the candidate for public office really has s finger on the pulse of that electorate, or whether s/he will listen to the corp-rat Siren Song and side with History's inevitable Big Prohibition losers.This issue will be the one, as was predicted here long ago, that rallies the many and varied (and sadly, fractious) elements favoring a return of greater freedom to the individual. For at its core is the basic ideal of personal sovereignty: if you are not free to ingest whatever you want, you are not free, period. All other freedoms spring from that, as do all other rights. It was so important that a signatory to the original Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, is reputed to have wanted an 11th Right in the Bill of Rights calling for freedom of medical practice in the face of ever-creeping centralization of power and the inevitable corruption that breeds. His foresight was true; our society today, with Elites controlling almost all worth having, is a perfect example of the price of that political (and economic) centralization.A pol who is positive about cannabis law reform has either genuine support for it or has read the political and social writing on the wall and has realized a demographic tsunami has arrived, as was predicted here and in books like The Fourth Turning that spell the end of machine politics in America. Issues will be king, not machines, and even established Parties face insurrections from within by their more dynamic members tired of Elite control...seeing as most of their futures have been trashed by those Elites. And has been demonstrated time and again, the issue of cannabis re-legalization is paramount for them. The litmus paper has been handed out to the pols; the ones that turn yellow (as in coward) for not supporting cannabis re-legalization can expect to hold another paper with another color on it soon: pink.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on November 17, 2014 at 21:24:30 PT
Another giant step for mankind.
Nevada cracking door to marijuana tourism VEGAS — Starting early next year, tourists with a medical marijuana card from their home state can buy pot while visiting Las Vegas and other Nevada cities. A handful of other states offer similar reciprocity, including Rhode Island and Maine, but Nevada is the first major tourist-destination state to honor other states' systems, industry experts say...-0-The other day there was a conversation about Colorado ending the medical approval law / Amendment 20, here at CNews. On the one hand that could be ok if anyone may use the plant since it is RE-legalized. On the other hand, a person who wishes to use cannabis for medial reasons, that doesn't have a card, in Colorado, might not be able to acquire cannabis in Nevada.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 17, 2014 at 21:07:02 PT
D.C. basically told RE-pubs to butt out.
“I haven’t given it one thought,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who CNN reported Friday was mapping out a presidential run. -0- Anyone mapping out a run for president should avoid the risk of diverting the will of the people.The article states, "That delayed timeline would almost certainly give Harris another chance next year to upend the measure before any pot is sold." But election ballot didn't include selling the PLANT. Correct? 
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