Congressman plans to force vote to block decriminalization of psychedelics in DC
Maryland Rep. Andy Harris (R) said he is against decriminalizing psychedelic drugs in Washington, D.C., adding that he plans to force a vote blocking decriminalization efforts in the city.
The move is in response to a petition started by drug activists, Decriminalize Nature D.C., which submitted on Monday what they claim is enough signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot. If passed, natural hallucinogens would become the lowest priority for law enforcement, the New York Post reported.
Harris plans to force a House Appropriations Committee vote next week to stop the initiative’s momentum by utilizing the influence of Congress over the District’s budget.
“This is a bald-faced attempt to just make these very serious, very potent, very dangerous — both short-term and long-term — hallucinogenic drugs broadly available,” Harris said to the Post.
Harris pointed his argument toward sustaining public health, saying it “has to be maintained” and questioned the consequences of making those in possession of hallucinogens less prone to prosecution.
He asked, “What would prevent people from using hallucinogens, getting behind the wheel of a car and killing people?”
Harris is an anesthesiologist. He has been a representative of Maryland’s 1st District since 2011.
Following D.C.’s 2014 vote to legalize marijuana garnering 65 percent of residents’ approval, he drafted a budget rider that is still effective and prevents the District from regulating recreational marijuana dispensaries.
Activist Adam Eidinger, responsible for leading the marijuana campaign and also working on the psychedelics initiative, said that he thinks Harris’s plan will fail.
Eidinger struck back at Harris, saying he “needs to shut up” and “listen to what the people are saying and then make the policy.”
“And he has a history of being a big mouth who doesn’t listen,” Eidinger said. “Andy Harris is riding our coattails. He is trying to get in the news media as a hater of drug policy reform and nothing more. He has no viable way of stopping this ballot initiative.”
The initiative to decriminalize psychedelics became a reality for Denver residents after a similar measure was approved for the city last year by a small margin of favorability.
This year, Oregon will see an initiative on the November ballot which seeks to utilize the natural drugs for therapeutic use.