December 17, 2014 The looming effort by Congress to disallow marijuana legalization in Washington, D.C. —despite the citizens’ voting for legalization by a 2-1 margin in November— echoes events that went down 16 years ago.
In August, 1998, with Washingtonians about to vote on Initiative 59, which would have legalized the medical use of marijuana, Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia introduced an amendment to the 1999 D.C. budget to prohibit the certification of the election results. “None of the funds contained in this act may be used to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act, or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.” Sic, sick, sic.
The ACLU challenged the Barr amendment in federal court, and The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics joined the suit as a plaintiff, arguing that Congress would be violating the first amendment rights of D.C. residents.The Clinton Justice Department asked US District Judge Richard Roberts to dismiss the ACLU suit. When it went to a hearing, DOJ argued that Congress has the legal authority to not certify legislation in D.C. . But in typical “I didn’t inhale” fashion, they raised no objection to the vote count being released!
“That’s basically turning an election into a public opinion poll,” observed Wayne Turner, the AIDS activist who organized the Initiative 59 campaign. “This is about the right of the people of the District of Columbia to have their votes counted and to have them count. This is about democracy held hostage.” The voided vote was a first in U.S. history.
At the time Rep. Bob Barr was among the moralistic hypocrities clamoring for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. But the two were united in the effort to deny Washingtonians’ access to medical marijuana.
After Barr left Congress, Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project hired him as a lobbyist at $10,000/month. News you will get nowhere else.