Congressman Defends His DC Anti-Pot Measure: ‘DC’s Not A State’

December 10, 2014 3:38 p.m.

The U.S. congressman who inserted language in the omnibus spending bill to block Washington, D.C.’s marijuana legalization ballot initiative says it doesn’t violate the principle of state’s rights.

“D.C.’s not a state,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told a few reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday, in response to a question by TPM.

“I’m sorry, it’s not a state!” he laughed.

Harris said his rider “prevents the ultimate enactment of the ballot initiative” passed by D.C. voters last month to legalize pot.

“Congress will have taken a position that the ballot initiative — legalization, not decriminalization or medical use, which is allowed under the omnibus language — that going forward, the legalization effort has to stop. Because no monies can be expended, either federal monies or district monies,” he said.

The Constitution gives Congress great authority over the local affairs of the District of Columbia.

Asked what motivated him to push for the provision, Harris said he’s dealt with addicted patients in his practice at Johns Hopkins for 30 years.

“It’s just not a good decision, and Congress disagrees,” he said.

Congressional leaders are aiming to pass the bill by the end of this week.

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