President Joe Biden is maintaining a ban on commercial adult-use cannabis sales in Washington, D.C., including what is known as the Harris Rider in his $5.8-billion budget proposal for 2023, according to the DCist.
District voters approved an adult-use cannabis legalization measure in the November 2014 election, but U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland, introduced a provision in the following year’s federal budget that has since blocked Washington officials from implementing commercial cannabis sales.
Biden included the Harris Rider in his proposed budget for 2022, DCist reported, and is now following suit this year.
The news comes after Congress passed a spending bill earlier this month that maintains the Harris Rider until at least September.
U.S. Cannabis Council CEO Steven Hawkins said in a public statement that the Harris Rider has “fueled a dangerous gray market that operates without any standards or safeguards and brazenly targets underage consumers,” all of which he said will continue until the provision is stripped from the federal budget.
“No one expects cannabis reform to be top of mind for a president facing down Russia, inflation and COVID-19,” Hawkins said. “However, President Biden has consistently passed up opportunities to make good on his campaign commitments to pardon non-violent offenders, fund expungement programs, boost research and give states autonomy over their medical and adult-use programs. In some cases, the administration has even gone in reverse on cannabis.
“This is an election year, and Americans are looking to President Biden and congressional leaders to make good on their pledges. We are disappointed by today’s news but optimistic about the prospects for reform this session. The president and Congress will have critical opportunities in the coming weeks and months to make real progress on cannabis criminal justice and banking reform. Voters are paying attention.”