Norton Remarks at National Cannabis Festival Emphasize Progress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) spoke at the National Cannabis Festival last weekend, detailing how Congress’s power over the District of Columbia’s local affairs allowed Republicans to impose a rider prohibiting D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization. Norton noted her disappointment that, despite President Biden’s strong support for D.C. statehood, his budgets for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 proposed maintaining the rider. In addition, Norton discussed her bill that would allow marijuana in public housing in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal.
“The American people support marijuana legalization, and we continue to make progress on marijuana legalization in the states, but Congress, particularly the Senate, continues to block progress on marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia and nationally,” Norton said. “It is past time for Congress to catch up with the American people and the states on marijuana.”
Norton’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.
Remarks of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
6th Annual National Cannabis Festival
April 23, 2022
I am pleased to speak with you at the sixth annual National Cannabis Festival and Rock the Vote event. While the American people support marijuana legalization, and we continue to make progress on marijuana legalization in the states, Congress, particularly the Senate, continues to block progress on marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia and nationally. It is past time for Congress to catch up with the American people and the states on marijuana.
Until the District of Columbia has statehood, Congress will control D.C.’s local affairs. Since 2014, Congress has used its undemocratic power over D.C. to block D.C. from spending its local funds to commercialize adult-use marijuana. D.C. has legalized the possession of adult-use marijuana, but Congress has blocked D.C. from legalizing, taxing and regulating adult-use sales. Congress recently finished the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill. The original versions of the House and Senate bills would have allowed D.C. to commercialize adult-use marijuana. However, President Biden and Republicans opposed allowing D.C. to do so, and they prevailed in the final bill. I am deeply disappointed that President Biden, who strongly supports D.C. statehood, which would allow D.C. to enact its own policies without congressional interference, supports blocking D.C. from commercializing adult-use marijuana.
I am hopeful that Congress will remove the rider that prohibits D.C. from commercializing adult-use marijuana even before D.C. achieves statehood, but D.C. is closer to statehood than ever before. The 690,000 residents of the District of Columbia, the majority of whom are Black and Brown, have all the obligations of citizenship, including paying federal taxes, but are denied voting representation in Congress and Congress has full control over D.C.’s local affairs.
One year ago yesterday, the House passed my D.C. statehood bill for the second time. When the House passed the bill in 2020, it was the first time in history either chamber of Congress had passed the D.C. statehood bill. In the Senate, there are a record 45 cosponsors of the bill, with our distinguished Senate sponsor, Tom Carper of Delaware, making 46 supporters. Last year, the Senate held its second-ever hearing on the bill. President Biden strongly endorsed the bill. Fifty-four percent of Americans support D.C. statehood, a record. The momentum is clearly on our side, and we are well on our way to achieving equality for the residents of D.C., but the filibuster and Republicans stand in the way.
In addition to working to allow D.C. to commercialize adult-use marijuana, I have been trying to allow marijuana in public and other federally assisted housing in compliance with state marijuana laws. For several Congresses, I have introduced a bill that would allow marijuana in federally assisted housing in compliance with state marijuana laws and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rules on smoking cigarettes. Last year, I also wrote to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge urging her to use her executive discretion not to enforce rules against marijuana in federally assisted housing in compliance with state marijuana laws. HUD wrote me back and said it did not have this authority. I disagree with HUD’s interpretation of the law.
If we continue to fight, I believe full marijuana legalization in D.C. and at the federal level will happen. Thank you for having me.