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House Budget Draft Would Clear Way for D.C. Medical Marijuana Vote

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The financial services subcommittee of the U.S. House appropriations committee has removed a ban on the District of Columbia using federal or local funds to legalize marijuana or to reduce penalties for its possession or distribution, the Washington Examiner reported June 28.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), the subcommittee chairman, said the budget bill “allows the District to conduct and implement a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in various states.”

In 1998, D.C. voters approved the use of medical marijuana, but the votes were declared invalid. However, when the ballots were unofficially tallied nearly a year later, it was found that 69 percent of voters supported legalization. Chuck Thies, who worked on the 1998 medical-marijuana campaign, predicted that the measure would pass again.

The D.C. budget bill also eliminates a ban on the use of local funds for abortion, as well as allowing the use of funds for domestic-partnership registration.

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