- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The marijuana legalization initiative adopted by D.C. voters was transmitted to Congress Tuesday, starting the clock on a review period that defies efforts by Republicans to block its implementation.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson had Initiative 71 transmitted to the House and Senate Tuesday, starting the 30-day legislative review period during which Congress can move to disapprove the legislation.

By transmitting the legislation, the council ignores the efforts of some Republican lawmakers who have sought to stop the legalization effort. Last year, Republicans amended a congressional spending bill to include language they say blocks the city from spending any money to loosen drug laws.

But the potential for a showdown between the District and Congress looms as D.C. lawmakers, including Mr. Mendelson and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, believe that the initiative was self-executing and took effect when voters approved it — well ahead of the adoption of the spending bill by Congress.

Republicans have taken the stance that the marijuana initiative, which 70 percent of voters supported at the ballot box, should not be allowed to take effect as a result of the language in the adopted spending bill.

The District’s initiative would make it legal to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and for D.C. residents to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. Due to restrictions on the ballot initiative process, the measure does not set up a scheme by which marijuana could be bought and sold.

To block Initiative 71 through the process, federal lawmakers could file a disapproval resolution that both chambers of Congress and the president would have to approve. The process has been used infrequently however — with Congress successfully blocking only three laws over the last 40 years through that process.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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