Obama Backs DC Vote to Legalize Marijuana

David McNew/Getty ImagesPHOTO: An employee pours marijuana buds from a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, July 25, 2012.PlayGetty Images
WATCH White House Backs Legal Marijuana in DC

President Obama supports legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in the nation's capital as approved by D.C. voters in a November referendum, the White House says.

But he also reluctantly supports and would sign a government funding bill that includes a rider blocking the measure, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Congressional negotiators have quietly tucked into a $1.1 trillion spending deal a provision prohibiting the district from spending money to enact the new policy.

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"We do not believe that Congress should spend a lot of time interfering with the ability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to make decisions related to how they should govern their community," Earnest told ABC's Jonathan Karl.

But despite the concerns, "the president supports the passage of this compromise proposal and would sign it if it arrives on his desk."

D.C. voters approved a referendum in November, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, to legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of pot or up to three plants for personal use.

District leaders have protested the anti-marijuana rider as anti-democratic interference, since residents of the capital city do not have voting representation in Congress.

Members of Congress supportive of the provision say they are acting to uphold federal law, which still bans the use, possession and sale of marijuana.