President Trump's 2020 budget request includes a loophole that would let Washington, DC finally open up dispensaries for recreational cannabis.
Although DC voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2014, Congress has used its power over the nation's capital to prevent it from selling cannabis for recreational use. Right now, local dispensaries can only sell medical marijuana to registered patients thanks to Congress, which controls spending in the District of Columbia. So if federal lawmakers forbid the district from putting any money toward opening recreational pot shops, then there's nothing that local lawmakers can do about it...until now, that is. Trump's new 2020 budget request includes language that could make it possible for recreational retailers to open shop in DC.
Trump's proposed budget for 2020 says that DC can't take any funds accounted for in the budget and spend them on enacting laws that would allow for the distribution of any substance that is federally prohibited, which includes cannabis. However, by limiting that rule to the money that's accounted for in the budget, Trump's proposal opens the door for DC councillors to use separate reserve funds to finally launch a recreational cannabis industry.
Of course, Trump's budget request is just that—a request—and one that is likely to be rejected in the House, where Democrats hold the majority. Presidential budget requests are almost never passed as is by Congress, which can tweak, heavily revise or completely disregard the commander-in-chief's wishes in the final budget. And seeing how Trump also included similar language in his 2019 budget, which was ultimately changed, we can probably expect to see similar opposition to opening up that loophole once again.
Still, that doesn't mean the good people of DC will never be able to buy legal weed. There is some indication that House Democrats will use their new majority to remove the restrictions that prevent DC from spending money on changes in cannabis policy. But, we'll have to wait and see how that all shapes up.
h/t Marijuana Moment