Federal Shutdown Means Cheap Marijuana for Government Employees

Washington, D.C. would not exist without the U.S. federal government. The city’s very genesis and continued existence are efforts to further the experiment called the United States. You could say it worked, in ways the founders did not expect: We have a country sprawling across a continent with a capital on the Potomac River; and out of a population of 700,000 people in the capital, there are 102,000 in D.C. who work for the federal government in some way.

Despite this long history and this interdependence, the nation’s capital and its Capitol have always had at best an uneasy and sometimes fractious relationship. Like two exes still sharing the same apartment — only one of whom has their name on the lease —there is constant bickering over bills and rules and who, exactly, is in charge.

In these, the feds almost always win. But what happens when the federal government shuts down for a month or longer, as seems to be what Donald Trump is willing to do in his extended snit over Congress’s refusal to build him a $5.7 billion monument to nativism on the southern border? For one, federal employees stuck at home on furlough or stuck at work doing unpaid labor can enjoy cheaper marijuana.

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D.C. has long had cannabis policies more closely resembling Colorado’s or California’s than the blanket prohibition still officially pushed by the White House, Congress, and the Justice Department. D.C. has legal marijuana dispensaries and in 2014, voters approved Initiative 71, which legalized recreational cannabis use and cultivation in D.C. in 2014.

Cannabis is a prime example of the gulf between local and federal lawmakers — and how the latter hold the upper hand and don’t let the locals forget it.

Republican-controlled Congresses have so far blocked D.C. local officials’ plans to license and regulate recreational cannabis stores. A reversal is possible with Democrats in charge of the House, but in the meantime, D.C. residents do enjoy access to cannabis at medical-marijuana dispensaries — some of which are welcoming federal workers into their stores with aggressive deals.

Here’s Metropolitan Wellness (which also recognizes medical-marijuana patients from out of state):

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This does beg a question: How many federal employees, who are beholden to federal drug-free workplace laws, actually use cannabis? There is some significant risk here, but surely some do — and if anyone were to start, now would be the time to do it. Who would drug-test you? Nobody! This could also be an ideal time for federal employees upset with their ultimate boss, the president who loves hamberders almost as much as he hates sitting in meetings making deals, to give it a shot.

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While by no means good, the shutdown has yet to prove a total disaster for D.C. As the Associated Press reported, D.C. city workers and officials are stuck doing all the chores that the paralyzed federal government would normally take care of — and so far, they appear to handling things.

City sanitation crews are taking out the trash and cleaning up the mess at National Parks Service sites like the Lincoln Memorial, which draw a steady stream of tourists from all over the world, shutdown or no shutdown.

This is not to say the federal government is not good and necessary. Like it or not, it provides key functions that, at the moment, nobody else is equipped to do, such as managing and maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, a job so important Donald Trump entrusted it to Rick Perry.


This is also the best time for everyone to challenge Congress’s prohibitions on D.C. marijuana legalization, which doesn’t apply on federal property, but what if the federal workers are at home? We would never advocate anyone to break the law (that is a foolish, foolish thing to do, of course!) but now would be the time to do it.

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