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House Bill Removes Obstacles to D.C. Needle Exchange, Medical Marijuana

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A bill to ease Congressional control over governance in Washington, D.C., could mean that the city’s needle-exchange and medical-marijuana laws will come into full force and funding, the New York Times reported Dec. 11.

The House “home rule” bill would lift a federal ban on D.C. using local tax revenues to pay for abortions as well as allowing the city to implement its voter-approved 1998 medical-marijuana law and to continue to pay for needle-exchange programs.

D.C. was barred from using local tax dollars for needle exchanges until 2007, when Congress lifted the ban, but Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) tried to add a rider that would have effectively banned needle exchanges near any place in the city where children gathered. The rider was recently removed from a federal appropriations bill.

The Senate is expected to approve the measure, which lifts a number of “riders” imposed by members of Congress on the D.C. budget bill. The restrictions take advantage of the federal government’s role in overseeing the city’s operations by allowing lawmakers from elsewhere in the country to impose their will on D.C. residents, often against their stated wishes.

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