For the first time, marijuana will be legal in the nation’s capital. That’s a big deal. It’s putting the use of this substance back in very close proximity of the legislators capable of affecting its administration and is likely to spur lively debate on the subject, once again.

What comes next though? What can we expect to see in the coming weeks and months now that this legislation has been passed?

The first thing that will probably happen will be a number of threats from conservative lawmakers to do everything in their power to prevent the law. Republican Representative Andy Harris has said, “The federal government should enforce federal law regardless of whether local citizens try to legalize marijuana. If legalization passes, I will consider using all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action, so that drug use among teens does not increase.”

As those efforts to block the legislation prove their impotence, you can expect more lawmakers to mount their soapboxes and decry the legislation and its supporters. Even if a congressman can’t actually do anything, that won’t stop a conservative from shaking his saber.

When it comes to policing, you can expect that federal authorities will maintain that their priorities are not to pursue minor offenders and instead keep with the practices they have previously outlined regarding states that have previously legalized marijuana.

In August 2013, the Department of Justice outlined the government’s policing priorities regarding marijuana enforcement as follows:

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana sales from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

In any event, the future of marijuana use in the nation’s capital is far from a settled matter. In fact, the theater may have only just begun.


Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.