How High Is John Fleming’s Interest in Blocking D.C. Pot Decriminalization? (Audio)
Posted at 5:53 p.m. on May 9
Is Fleming fired up, ready to go with a resolution? Maybe not. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., wants to clarify that he has not yet committed to introducing a House resolution to oppose the District’s efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“He continues to fact-find on the issue and will be at the sub-committee’s next hearing on the matter,” said spokesman Doug Sachtleben in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But for now, he has not made the decision to introduce that resolution. He will continue to speak out against decriminalizing marijuana and seek to educate people about its dangers.”
Around noon on Friday, when asked whether he intended to introduce a resolution blocking the D.C. bill from becoming law, Fleming told CQ Roll Call: “I do think we should step in to the extent that we have the power to do so.”
The congressman’s office said Fleming’s “point was that he will continue looking at what Congress has the authority to do, and then make a decision,” and that Fleming had intentionally avoided a direct “yes” to the question, because he wants to see if a resolution is the best way to go or if there’s another approach Congress can take.
During the noon interview, Fleming also claimed members had approached him to talk about the subject. When asked to identify them, he said, “Well, I haven’t really discussed that,” and noted that “unfortunately, this is not really getting a whole lot of interest.”
The congressman, who authored a 2006 book on addiction, said there seemed to be more interest in the wake of debate on an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have allowed physicians working for the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss medical marijuana options with patients in states where it is legal.
“So, I think as we have more discussion and debate about this, more members are reaching out to me to get my views and even libertarians are talking to me,” he said. “I think they get where I’m coming from on this. … I think as I get real libertarians to look at this, I think they’re beginning to understand and agree with me.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., was not amused, launching a counter-attack on Friday afternoon saying Fleming was throwing the GOP’s professed principles of local control and federalism “under the proverbial bus.”
“I imagine his constituents would rather that their member of Congress spend his valuable time in Washington attending to their business instead of meddling in the lawful decisions of a district more than 1,000 miles from their own,” she added.
Fleming said he had not yet spoken with GOP leadership, but he intends to, adding, “That’s why I wanted to go to the hearing to see what everybody had to say.”
Sachtleben said Fleming hopes to make a decision after the next hearing on “the next step, which may or may not be a resolution.”