In yet another reminder of why there needs to be Statehood for D.C., House Republicans held a hearing today on a local bill to decriminalization marijuana. The reason D.C. was singled out as the only local decriminalize bill to have a hearing in Congress is because the most basic democratic rights are denied to the roughly 600,000 citizens living in D.C.
The hearing was called by Rep. John Mica (R), the chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, seen here holding a fake joint that he jokingly said one of his staffers with more experience rolled for him.
Even though the people of the district pay taxes and die defending the country, they don’t have the right to elect anyone to Congress or even control their own local laws. The D.C. council effectively only has the ability to ask Congress for permission to change their local laws. All bills adopted by the council need to go through a Congressional review period during which time Congress can kill them, despite the American citizens in D.C. not having any representation in Congress. The D.C. decriminalization bill is currently still under Congressional review.
To his credit Mica said during the hearing that, “I’m not here to negate the district’s law, we’re here to review what the district passed and there have been precedents for that.” It was clear that this hearing was less about trying to stop this D.C. bill and more about Mica’s multi-part effort to attack President Obama over drug policy. This is after all why the hearing was named, “Mixed Signals: The Administration’s Policy on Marijuana, Part Three.” More parts may follow.
Still Mica is exploiting Congress’s unjust control of D.C. local law to use 600,000 disenfranchised American citizens as pawns in some political squabble. That is morally repugnant, anti-freedom, and undemocratic.
The American citizens of D.C. deserve the same rights as any other free people on earth, which is to have a legal say in setting the laws that govern them. They shouldn’t be used by Congress as a powerless pawn or a forced testing ground for policies. The easiest way to permanently put a stop this unjust behavior is by granting Statehood to D.C.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy