Republican Congressman Threatens D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser with Jail Time Over Legalization of Marijuana

Muriel Bowser

With hours to go before the District of Columbia legalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana, a Republican congressman is threatening the federal city’s mayor with arrest.

Initiative 71, which was approved by 70 percent of voters last November, has brought to the surface the District’s long struggle to govern itself. As the Constitution and federal law mandate, the District does not have voting representatives or senators in Congress and every law passed by the District has to be reviewed by Congress.

The District argues that at midnight tonight, Congress’ review window closes and Initiative 71 becomes law.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, takes issue with that interpretation and in a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District would be in “willful violation of the law,” if it goes through with its plans.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Chaffetz took an even more confrontational tone.

“You can go to prison for this,” the paper quoted him as saying. “We’re not playing a little game here.”

Hours later, Bowser emerged flanked by all the members of the city council, her attorney general and her police chief and said the District was moving forward with Initiative 71.

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