Pubdate: Thu, 21 May 2015
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Post Company
Author: Walter Smith


The city is missing out on tax revenue.

As the May 18 front-page article "Legal pot in the District is a boon 
for illegal dealers" reported, D.C. voters' determination to legalize 
marijuana possession through Initiative 71 is having significant 
unintended consequences. Because residents can legally use and 
possess marijuana but can't legally buy it, the illegal drug trade 
has increased and the city is missing out on the tax revenue it would 
receive if the sales were regulated.

These consequences apparently are acceptable to Rep. Andy Harris 
(R-Md.), the chief proponent of the prohibition on using federal 
appropriations to establish the needed regulatory system for 
marijuana sales in the District. But this is the exact opposite of 
what D.C. voters and their elected officials intended.

Fortunately, D.C. officials have the means to fix the problem and 
effectuate voters' intent. Because the congressional prohibition 
applies only to the use of the District's current fiscal year 
appropriation, the District could use its reserve funds to enact the 
needed regulations. This is what the District did during the 2013 
federal government shutdown: It tapped its reserves to keep the city 
open even though it did not have a fiscal year appropriation for doing so.

The District should use this reserve tool again to carry out the 
people's will and implement their decision on Initiative 71.

Walter Smith, Washington The writer is executive director of DC 
Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom