DC mayor calls for Maryland beach boycott to protest anti-pot measure

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The mayor of Washington is urging the capital’s residents to boycott Maryland's beaches this summer to protest legislation from a Free State Republican blocking D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law.

Mayor Vincent Gray said the amendment from Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), which Republicans attached to the District's 2015 spending bill last month, is "hypocrisy at its worst" considering that Maryland recently passed a similar law.

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“I don’t think we should support someone who doesn’t support us, who doesn’t support democracy, period,” Gray told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Gray issued a statement Thursday to clarify that, while he's "not called for an official boycott of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I urge every American who cares about fairness and democracy to stand up to this hypocrisy and bullying."

Others aren't being so cautious. Advocates pushing to empower D.C. with a voting representative in Congress are urging an outright boycott of Harris's expansive Eastern Shore district.

“The people of the District have nothing against the people of Ocean City or any other place in Mr. Harris’ district,” Kimberly Perry, head of DC Vote, said in a statement.

“We hope they understand that the dictatorial action of their representative — along with our lack of a voting representative in Congress — leaves supporters of democracy with few options to respond to his unwarranted attack on DC’s local autonomy,” she added.

“We might not be able to vote in Congress, but we can all vote with our wallets.”

Harris was quick to push back, saying District residents "know better." 

"Spending the weekend on the beautiful family friendly Eastern Shore is more important than increasing drug use by DC teenagers," he said in a statement.

Harris's office piled on, with spokesman Chris Meekins taking a jab at Gray for recently losing his primary bid for a second term.

"D.C. voters showed on Election Day the value they place on what the mayor has to say," Meekins said in an email. "I only wish some D.C. politicians cared as much about providing a quality education to D.C. students as they do about decriminalizing marijuana for teenagers."

At issue is a new D.C. law, signed by Gray in March, to decriminalize some recreational use of marijuana in the nation's capital. At least 18 other states have passed similar laws, including Maryland.

Supporters say such measures will free law-enforcers to focus on more serious crimes. Opponents argue that they're a threat to public health and safety.

Harris's amendment, offered last month during an Appropriations Committee markup of D.C.'s 2015 spending bill, would nullify the D.C. law by prohibiting either federal or local funds from being used to implement it. The measure passed the panel by a 28-21 vote, and is expected to pass as part of the larger bill on the House floor. 

The Senate's version of the bill does not contain the defunding measure, leaving the ultimate fate of Harris's amendment in question.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), the District's lone voice on Capitol Hill, has led the charge against Harris and his amendment. 

"Surely," she said last month, "he should spend more time focused on bills and amendments to benefit his own Maryland constituents instead of introducing an amendment that will harm minorities, especially African-Americans, in my district."

--This report was updated at 12:39 p.m.