News & Politics

White House Says Obama Would Veto Bill Containing Amendment Against DC Marijuana Decriminalization

Representative Andy Harris's goal of derailing the District's new pot policy faces another hurdle.

Harris. Photograph via Facebook.

Representative Andy Harris’s rider aimed at invalidating the District’s marijuana decriminalization law is most likely doomed to die a bureaucratic death when the appropriations bill to which he attached it gets reconciled with the Senate’s version. But just in case it slips through, the White House is also ready to stamp out Harris’s attempt to bend DC’s local laws to his will.

In a statement of administration policy yesterday, the White House says President Obama will veto the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations act—the bill that authorizes the District to execute its budget—for the 2015 fiscal year, if it arrives at his desk in its current form.

Harris, a Maryland Republican, has been the favorite target of DC statehood activists since he pushed through his amendment last month banning the District from spending any money to implement its new decriminalization law, which is expected to take effect Thursday at the end of its 60-day congressional review period.

The White House objects to much more in the House’s appropriation bill than a few policy riders aimed at interfering with DC’s ability to govern its own residents, such as threatened cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, and White House salaries. But the administration’s statement lays out a pretty clear objection to the parts concerning the District.

“[T]he administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of states’ rights and of District home rule,” the policy statement reads.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.