District leaders don’t want to have to respond to Congress to shape their cannabis policies
While President Joe Biden’s marijuana pardons represent a fairly relevant step for one congresswoman, she calls for the administration to take steps necessary for Washington, DC, to be able to establish a commercial marijuana market and grant clemency on its own. Biden’s latest measures have been well received by many politicians and some expect him to continue this approach to the plant.
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has welcomed the President’s actions regarding pardons for people who committed cannabis possession offenses in the District. However, the clemency process needs to be reformed, she says.
According to the recent decision, only the president can pardon people for DC violations. The states, meanwhile, have some independent process by which governors and pardoning officials can provide that relief. Even when Biden called for governors to follow those steps, DC officials have their hands tied by law.
The president’s last two budget proposals were singled out by Norton. She claims these measures maintained a GOP-sponsored provision that prevented DC from using local tax dollars to establish a regulated cannabis market, even though voters in the jurisdiction voted to legalize the plant eight years ago.
This policy, according to the congresswoman, amounts to a shocking violation of DC home rule by a Democratic administration. Furthermore, “DC should not have to rely on the president to exercise mercy and mitigate the harms of unjust policies,” she said. “DC should have the authority to grant clemency for DC crimes, as states and territories have for crimes under their laws. The Biden administration should publicly endorse granting DC this authority.”