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D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who succeeded in ridding the D.C. bill of riders that restricted the use of public dollars on medical marijuana, needle-exchange programs and abortions, called the removal of the prohibitions historic and predicted that Congress, which has a constitutional prerogative regarding D.C. budget matters, won’t revisit the marijuana issue.

D.C. officials said that at this juncture, there is much to ponder. In addition to federal and distribution issues, authorities are reviewing tax, penalty and consumption regulations. They also are reconsidering licensing laws and which illnesses should be considered “debilitating” since the 1998 initiative.

Several council members said they are not sure how to proceed.

“I don’t know what the next steps should be,” said council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

Mr. Nickles, whose job is to ensure that the District’s next steps pass legal muster, said he and his staff are studying the 1998 measure. “It’s a complex issue.”