Drug Policy Alliance Leads 50+ Organizations in Calling on Congress to Finally Remove D.C. Marijuana Rider

Press Release March 4, 2022
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Drug Policy Alliance led a group of over 50 criminal justice reform, liberty, business, labor, and drug policy organizations in sending a letter to key House and Senate appropriators, along with Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, urging them to maintain the removal of the appropriations rider that has prevented D.C. from establishing a regulatory framework for marijuana, despite it being legalized by D.C. voters in 2014. 
Below is a statement from Queen Adesuyi, Senior National Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance:
“In one hand, Congress continues to make strides in advancing federal marijuana reform grounded in racial justice, while simultaneously being responsible for prohibiting the very jurisdiction that led the country in legalizing marijuana through this lens from being able to regulate it. This conflict and contradiction must end now.

“Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and the four lead appropriators have a momentous opportunity to untie the hands of local D.C. policymakers, and allow for the District to fruitfully tap into the serious economic, public health, and public safety benefits of legalization like every other state that has reformed its marijuana laws. Leadership passing on this historic chance to be on the right side of history—in standing for both marijuana reform and democracy—would be demoralizing, and a clear sign that there is a stronger commitment to use D.C. as a bargaining chip than on the values of marijuana justice and home rule. We look forward to working with them to finally bring this injustice to a close and ensure D.C. residents’ voice and vote are respected.”


For the first time since this rider was implemented following the successful passage of Initiative 71, appropriators in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee across the House and the Senate successfully removed the rider earlier this Congress. As Congress works to finalize funding levels and bill language in the FY22 Appropriations bill, groups are demanding that the rider’s removal is maintained, and that the District of Columbia’s right to regulate marijuana is not used as a bargaining chip. Under the conditions caused by the rider—where marijuana is essentially decriminalized, but there is no legal access for adult use—D.C. has been left with a complicated grey market that is both unsafe and a far cry from the racial and economic justice promises of the Initiative 71 campaign.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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