The District will be prohibited from legalizing marijuana for the much of the coming year under a spending deal reached Tuesday between top Senate Democrats and House Republicans to fund the federal government through next September.
The development — upending voter-approved Initiative 71 — shocked elected D.C. leaders, advocates for marijuana legalization and civil liberties groups who earlier in the day had grown confident that the measure would be at least partially protected while Democrats still controlled the Senate.
However, with Republicans set to take control of the chamber in January, the defeat suggested that the will of D.C. voters — who approved marijuana legalization last month by a margin of more than 2 to 1 — may be suspended indefinitely.
“I can’t believe they did this,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said. “We don’t need to be locking these people up.”
“It’s totally disturbing; it’s entirely undemocratic,” said Adam Eidinger, who led the efforts to collect over 57,000 signatures this year to put the measure before D.C. voters.
Late Tuesday, Eidinger said marijuana advocates were organizing a protest that would begin Wednesday evening at the Justice Department and march to Capitol Hill with the potential for several advocates to seek arrest.
“I’m ready for some civil disobedience. If you’re going to overturn an election, you might as well say something before it’s done.”