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DC Attorney General Backs Away From Threats To Jail City Council Over Marijuana

Not too long ago, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine threatened D.C. City Council with the prospect of jail time if they went ahead with marijuana legalization in the district. Now, Racine has backed down from his original threats.

“I don’t think Mayor [Muriel] Bowser, nor any member of the council, nor any civil servant member in the District of Columbia who had anything to do with the passage of the responsible Initiative 71 will be locked up, nor should they,” Racine stated in an interview with NewsChannel 8’s New Talk.

At the beginning of February, Racine warned the D.C. City Council not to proceed with a meeting to develop a regulatory and taxation framework for marijuana, unless they wanted to face potential fines of up to $5,000 dollars and jail time. As Racine put it, the meeting “would violate federal civil and criminal code provisions.” (RELATED: DC Council Threatened With Jail Time For Discussing Marijuana)

The threats worked, and the council quickly abandoned plans to move forward with the talks. However, as the date drew closer to Feb. 26, the action again turned to posturing. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent Mayor Muriel Bowser a letter saying that allowing marijuana to be legalized would violate the Anti-Deficiency Act and result in serious legal consequences, including the possibility of prison. The purpose of the Anti-Deficiency Act is to prohibit the spending of federal funds that have not been appropriated.

“You can go to prison for this,” Chaffetz told The Washington Post. “We’re not playing a little game here.”

Bowser called Chaffetz’s bluff, and now that the dust has settled and a limited regime of marijuana legalization has come into play, there’s no indication of any legal action from Congress. Additionally, it’s even more unlikely that Attorney General Eric Holder will come down hard on D.C., given the Obama administration’s previous stance on legal marijuana in Colorado and other states.

Racine stated that D.C. is in talks with Congress and that the council believes it is in a position to negotiate, so as to avoid court.

“I think that what you are going to see is that this is a disagreement, a reasonable disagreement, as to applicable law,” Racine told NewsChannel 8. “Nothing more and nothing less.”

Initiative 71 permits possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, as well as the ability to grow up to six plants at home, three of which can be mature plants.

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