Taylor West, [email protected]

Opponents of "social riders" attached by Congress to last year's DC spending bill celebrated two victories this week in the House Appropriations Committee. During debate in the committee over this year's DC Appropriations Act, Representative James Moran (D-VA) successfully added two amendments that reversed provisions in last year's spending legislation. Moran's first amendment allowed the certification of Initiative 59, the medical marijuana vote which has remained uncounted since it took place on November 3rd of last year. The second amendment removed last year's prohibition of local funding for syringe exchange. Both amendments must now survive debate on the House floor in order to take effect.

With a vote of 24-13, the Appropriations Committee approved Moran's amendment to remove last year's ban on the use of city funds to certify the District's referendum vote on medical marijuana. The vote took place nearly nine months ago, but Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) pushed through a measure in last year's spending bill that allowed no local expenditure for officially counting the results. The estimated cost of executing that count is less than two dollars. In response, supporters of the initiative have challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in federal court; the case is pending.

If the vote certification amendment survives House floor debate, the results of the referendum -- which exit polls estimated at nearly 70% in favor of the medical use of marijuana -- will finally be announced. At that time, the House, the Senate, and the Clinton administration will have 30 days in which to take action to block the implementation of the initiative. If a move to block is not approved by all three bodies within 30 days, the initiative will become law in the District.

Wayne Turner, director of ACTUP/DC (http://www.actupdc.org) and a leader of the Initiative 59 campaign, was optimistic as he spoke to The Week Online. "It's very exciting for a couple of reasons. First, I think this victory in the committee shows that this is a winnable issue. Many people doubted that. Second, we've been fighting this as an issue of democracy -- allowing the will of the people to be heard. It is heartening to see that some legislators, regardless of their stance on medical marijuana, will stand by that democratic principle. Furthermore, we feel very confident about the court case that is pending. Regardless of how this legislation turns out, we feel good about our chances." Turner also praised Congressman Moran for following through on his commitment to fight the social riders attached in last year's appropriations.

Moran's second amendment would allow the nation's capital to once again help fund a syringe exchange in the District. The Whitman-Walker clinic, in conjunction with the DC Department of Health, began operating a city-wide syringe exchange program in 1996. However, when last year's DC Appropriations prohibited the use of city funds for syringe exchange, Whitman-Walker was forced to end that program. Since then, only Prevention Works!, a small organization funded entirely by private grants, has provided syringe exchange services to the District of Columbia, which has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the nation.

Rob Stewart, Director of Communications at the Drug Policy Foundation, welcomed the possibility of returning city funding for syringe exchange. "In an ideal world, there would be sufficient private funds to keep syringe exchange programs running, but Congress's unwillingness to confront this crisis has only made it more of a public health emergency. Hopefully, both houses [of Congress] will allow DC to spend its money as it sees fit -- a vital component of 'home rule.'" The Drug Policy Foundation has been the chief monetary supporter of Prevention Works!.

Representative Moran has committed himself to continue pushing his amendments on the floor of the House. Jim McIntyre, Moran's press secretary, told the Week Online, "Congressman Moran believes very strongly that Congress should not be telling the District how to spend their locally collected revenue. The Republican leadership has continued to insist on the addition of these social riders, even though they do not involve any federal funds. Congressman Moran is extremely pleased that his amendments passed the full committee, and is optimistic that this victory will help in the House debate."

The DC Appropriations Act is scheduled for debate in the House on Thursday, July 29th. Turner, who has also been active in working for needle exchange in the District, explained his view of the situation this way. "I think many Congress people are afraid of certain votes. They're scared off by the idea of voting for needles and marijuana. However, by offering these amendments, we give them the choice instead to vote for HIV prevention and democracy. Who can oppose that?"

Taylor West, [email protected]

Opponents of "social riders" attached by Congress to last year's DC spending bill celebrated two victories this week in the House Appropriations Committee. During debate in the committee over this year's DC Appropriations Act, Representative James Moran (D-VA) successfully added two amendments that reversed provisions in last year's spending legislation. Moran's first amendment allowed the certification of Initiative 59, the medical marijuana vote which has remained uncounted since it took place on November 3rd of last year. The second amendment removed last year's prohibition of local funding for syringe exchange. Both amendments must now survive debate on the House floor in order to take effect.

With a vote of 24-13, the Appropriations Committee approved Moran's amendment to remove last year's ban on the use of city funds to certify the District's referendum vote on medical marijuana. The vote took place nearly nine months ago, but Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) pushed through a measure in last year's spending bill that allowed no local expenditure for officially counting the results. The estimated cost of executing that count is less than two dollars. In response, supporters of the initiative have challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in federal court; the case is pending.

If the vote certification amendment survives House floor debate, the results of the referendum -- which exit polls estimated at nearly 70% in favor of the medical use of marijuana -- will finally be announced. At that time, the House, the Senate, and the Clinton administration will have 30 days in which to take action to block the implementation of the initiative. If a move to block is not approved by all three bodies within 30 days, the initiative will become law in the District.

Wayne Turner, director of ACTUP/DC (http://www.actupdc.org) and a leader of the Initiative 59 campaign, was optimistic as he spoke to The Week Online. "It's very exciting for a couple of reasons. First, I think this victory in the committee shows that this is a winnable issue. Many people doubted that. Second, we've been fighting this as an issue of democracy -- allowing the will of the people to be heard. It is heartening to see that some legislators, regardless of their stance on medical marijuana, will stand by that democratic principle. Furthermore, we feel very confident about the court case that is pending. Regardless of how this legislation turns out, we feel good about our chances." Turner also praised Congressman Moran for following through on his commitment to fight the social riders attached in last year's appropriations.

Moran's second amendment would allow the nation's capital to once again help fund a syringe exchange in the District. The Whitman-Walker clinic, in conjunction with the DC Department of Health, began operating a city-wide syringe exchange program in 1996. However, when last year's DC Appropriations prohibited the use of city funds for syringe exchange, Whitman-Walker was forced to end that program. Since then, only Prevention Works!, a small organization funded entirely by private grants, has provided syringe exchange services to the District of Columbia, which has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the nation.

Rob Stewart, Director of Communications at the Drug Policy Foundation, welcomed the possibility of returning city funding for syringe exchange. "In an ideal world, there would be sufficient private funds to keep syringe exchange programs running, but Congress's unwillingness to confront this crisis has only made it more of a public health emergency. Hopefully, both houses [of Congress] will allow DC to spend its money as it sees fit -- a vital component of 'home rule.'" The Drug Policy Foundation has been the chief monetary supporter of Prevention Works!.

Representative Moran has committed himself to continue pushing his amendments on the floor of the House. Jim McIntyre, Moran's press secretary, told the Week Online, "Congressman Moran believes very strongly that Congress should not be telling the District how to spend their locally collected revenue. The Republican leadership has continued to insist on the addition of these social riders, even though they do not involve any federal funds. Congressman Moran is extremely pleased that his amendments passed the full committee, and is optimistic that this victory will help in the House debate."

The DC Appropriations Act is scheduled for debate in the House on Thursday, July 29th. Turner, who has also been active in working for needle exchange in the District, explained his view of the situation this way. "I think many Congress people are afraid of certain votes. They're scared off by the idea of voting for needles and marijuana. However, by offering these amendments, we give them the choice instead to vote for HIV prevention and democracy. Who can oppose that?"

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #100, 7/23/99 100 Issues Later | DC Appropriations Bill Moves Forward -- Medical Marijuana Vote May Be Counted, Syringe Exchange May Be Re-funded | Senate Holds First Hearing on Civil Forfeiture Reform | Fuel to the Fire: Drug Czar Proposes Billion More for Andean Drug War, Mostly Colombia | Florida Drug Czar Killer Fungus Plan Worries Experts | Speaker Lashes Out at Drug War at Mormon Symposium | Newsbriefs | Editorial: And The Winner Is
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1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #100, 7/23/99 100 Issues Later | DC Appropriations Bill Moves Forward -- Medical Marijuana Vote May Be Counted, Syringe Exchange May Be Re-funded | Senate Holds First Hearing on Civil Forfeiture Reform | Fuel to the Fire: Drug Czar Proposes Billion More for Andean Drug War, Mostly Colombia | Florida Drug Czar Killer Fungus Plan Worries Experts | Speaker Lashes Out at Drug War at Mormon Symposium | Newsbriefs | Editorial: And The Winner Is
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en Espaņol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em Portuguęs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]