The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released Norton's testimony in advance of tomorrow's hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations on legislation passed by the District of Columbia decriminalizing marijuana. Norton is a senior member of the full committee, but is not a member of the subcommittee, which is chaired by Representative John Mica (R-FL). As a member of the full committee, she will be permitted to sit with the subcommittee and ask questions following her testimony as a witness. The hearing will take place on May 8 at 10:00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.
The disproportionate effect of marijuana laws on African Americans, who are eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in the District, was the primary factor in moving the D.C. Council, but Norton stressed that it is inappropriate for Congress to hold a hearing on a local D.C. bill, whatever its origin.
Norton, in her written testimony submitted to the subcommittee said, "In fact, there is nothing that distinguishes the District from the states that have decriminalized marijuana except for the illegitimate power of Congress to overturn the democratically enacted local laws of the District, in contravention of every American principle of local control of local affairs. Republicans say they support limiting the federal government's power and devolving that power to states and localities. This hearing does the opposite. This hearing does not practice what Republicans preach, and we do not intend to allow the violation of their own principles at our expense. We will defend the city's marijuana decriminalization bill against any and all attempts to overturn or block it."