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Harris plans attempt to block D.C. pot law

Rep. Andy Harris plans to introduce an amendment Wednesday that would block the District of Columbia's effort to decriminalize marijuana.

The Cockeysville Republican and House Appropriations Committee member will attempt to attach the amendment to a spending bill Wednesday. The effort comes months after the state of Maryland made possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil matter.

The effort was first reported by CQ Roll Call.

"What the amendment will do is prohibit not only federal funds but D.C. funds to be used to decriminalize marijuana under the current statute," Harris, an anesthesiologist, told the paper.

The effort drew a rebuke from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington.

"Representative Harris is not only trying to overrule the will of my constituents, to whom he is not accountable, he is acting contrary to the laws of his own state, which recently decriminalized marijuana," Norton said in a statement. "It is particularly offensive that he is trying to impose on another Member’s district what he was unable to do democratically in his own."

Tension between members of Congress -- and particularly Republicans -- and city leaders in Washington over such issues is common. But it is the first time Harris has stepped into the debate over congressional oversight of city issues.

Harris announced last week he is running to chair the conservative Republican Study Committee, a position that became vacant in the recent shuffle of GOP leaders in the House. 

Washington's decriminalization law, signed by Mayor Vincent Gray in March, is undergoing a legally required 60-day congressional review.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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