It's been a very long time coming - longer than it took to bring actual (if flawed) democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Yesterday, this happened:
House and Senate conferees have come up with a compromise conference agreement that would provide funding for most federal departments and agencies. But unlike past years, there is no provision that would prevent D.C. from legalizing medical marijuana.
In 1998, D.C. voters approved a referendum that would allow the possession of and usage of medical marijuana. Republicans in Congress swiftly blocked the referendum by placing a provision in funding bills that prevents D.C. from enforcing or implementing the law. That provision has appeared each year until this year's funding bill. The conference agreement must be adopted by the full House and the full Senate. Neither chamber can amend the bill; it's a straight up-or-down vote.
This could actually mean that citizens of the United States are allowed to hold a referendum - and have the results enforced by law! Imagine that!
Previously, Americans (unlike Iraqis or even Afghans) were allowed to vote in the District of Columbia but were not allowed to have those votes actually affect public policy. Because the District's inhabitants were too black liberal for some of the more hardcore Republicans and Democrats from other parts of the country to allow them to govern themselves. The vote to legalize medical marijuana in 1998 arrived at a 69 percent majority in favor. This was not a narrow vote - it was an overwhelming popular majority more than ten years ago, long before the big increase in public support for medical marijuana over the last ten years.
I'm not entirely sure what the procedural steps are when Proposition 59 is allowed finally to take effect. But it seems to me that the moment the appropriations bill passes, and the block on Prop 59 falls, medical marijuana must become legal in the district.