It is sounds like Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) might be looking for a face saving way out of the political fight he started with the people of D.C. when he tried to interfere with their new marijuana decriminalization bill.
Harris continues to maintain he supports the principle of taxation without representation and fiercely opposes allowing the citizens of D.C. to have the basic right of democracy, but it seems he might be open to a deal on this specific issue.
Harris told WAMU‘s Coastal Connection his main problem with D.C. decriminalization law is that it doesn’t have special provisions for people who are under age. “If it looked more like the Maryland [decriminalization] law, I wouldn’t have gotten involved. I still think it will result in increased teenage drug use and I still won’t support it, but I would withdraw my objection to the D.C. law.”
I’m highly skeptical this is what Harris really wanted because he could have asked the D.C. Council for this change when they debated the bill. He could have quietly brought this issue up with the Council months earlier when the congressional review period started. He could even have written his amendment to only deal with this aspect of the law. Instead Harris went after all marijuana reform efforts in D.C. and only started talking this way after facing intense political scrutiny. It seems the pressure might be working.
D.C. council member Tommy Wells (D) is working on a new bill to try to placate some of these supposed concerns about under age use and that might help resolve things.
Of course the only way to really solve this deeply unfair situation is to grant D.C. statehood. That would finally give the citizen of D.C. full voting rights and free them from future tyrannical interference. It would only take a simple act of Congress.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy