Posts by Devin Dwyer, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps
Devin Dwyer, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 5 mths ago
It’s now legal to get high in the nation’s capital, so long as you do it in private.
A voter-approved initiative legalizing limited recreational use of marijuana took effect Thursday. But with some Republicans on Capitol Hill threatening legal action against the District of Columbia, the future of pot in the federal city remains a bit hazy.
“It's legalization without commercialization,” Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, told “Power Players.”
While adults can now legally possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana -- about a large sandwich bag’s worth – it’s still against the law to buy or sell it and smoke in public, according to city officials.
“There are no store fronts where people who are 21 and older can just walk in and buy a bag of marijuana, unless you're a medical marijuana patient,” said Eidinger, who’s has spent the last 15 years campaigning for legal pot in his hometown.
For now, the only legal way to get weed is to grow it. Under the law, District residents are allowed up to six plants.
“And they just can't sell it,” Eidinger said. “As soon as you start deriving income, you're violating the initiative.”
Devin Dwyer, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 7 mths ago
Turns out a taxman’s house is the oldest building still standing on the National Mall.
The 178-year-old stone structure – known as the Lockkeeper’s House – sits at one of the busiest intersections in Washington, D.C. It’s been dilapidated for decades, but is about to get a multi-million dollar makeover.
“Constitution Avenue was actually the Washington City Canal…food was dropped off here, goods were dropped off here, and the lockkeeper collected the taxes and took notes and took records about what came in and out of this city at this wharf,” Caroline Cunningham, the president of the Trust for the National Mall, said in an interview outside the house, which was once the gateway to commerce in the nation’s capital.
More recently it served as a jail, storage hut and even a public restroom before being shuttered entirely in the 1970s. “A place for dead birds,” said Cunningham. “It’s deeply sad that it’s been closed for such a long time.”
“Power Players” got a rare peak inside the decrepit Lockkeeper’s House, which is nestled between the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial.
Devin Dwyer, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 10 mths ago
A novel new website dubbed Crowdpac is out to empower more average Americans to lend support to election campaigns nationwide in an era when big donors dominate.
“The idea of Crowdpac is to make it really easy for everyone to get involved in politics,” Crowdpac’s British co-founder and CEO Steve Hilton told “Power Players.”
Hilton, a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron, has a reputation across the pond for his out-of-the-box strategies to try to provoke political change. Now living in the United States, he’s on a mission to make it easier for Americans to find like-minded candidates and give them some cash.
“People are concerned about the fact that typically it's the insiders, the big donors, the special interests,” Hilton said. “So you can search Crowdpac for the candidates that come closest to your position and that are running in tight races where your involvement can be effective.”
Would you live in an 8-by-40-foot shipping container that’s been to China and back?
Two young real estate developers in Washington, D.C., say their new apartment building of converted steel hulks, once used to haul cargo across oceans, has people lined up to move in.
“It was a great feeling to know that … we could repurpose these and that we could put them into this use and the finished product is going be beautiful,” said Sean Joiner, who is behind the project with business partner Matthew Grace.
If the idea of living inside an 11,000 pound box of steel doesn’t sound “beautiful,” Joiner and Grace say the completed space will be convincing.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?” Joiner said. “A lot of people would argue that living in a steel glass building, people pay a lot of money for that, right? That's what this is.”
The three-story building, made of 18 repurposed containers, will have all the amenities of a standard apartment structure.
Architect Travis Price, who first presented the container idea to Grace and Joiner, called it an affordable alternative to traditional construction methods.
Inside the “Matchbox,” there’s plenty of room for romance. (Just don’t rock too hard, or the 150-square-foot home-on-wheels might come off its foundation.)
“It’s definitely very cozy,” said Jay Austin, the 24-year-old federal government staffer and self-described “lifestyle artist,” who designed his tiny home atop a trailer in northeast D.C.
“A tiny house is sort of a great filter. Some women will be scared away by it certainly, but I find the people I’d be compatible with are sort of into the notion of the tiny houses,” he told “Power Players.”
“You sort of have to have a sense of humor to appreciate it,” he added.
Humor, and most definitely tolerance for tight spaces and few luxuries of modern city living.
“It’s off-grid, totally unplugged and self-sustaining,” Austin said, “meaning there is no propane shipped in, no natural gas being moved in to power the unit.”
Water is collected from the roof and “rain chains,” triple-filtered and stored in tanks for the shower and sink. Electricity will come from solar panels. There is no hard-wire cable TV.
That smell of cedar inside? The sawdust material for flushing a composting toilet that sits directly below the bed.
These days, former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger is like a lonely voice crying out in the wilderness – an anti-drug crusader who served three American presidents, now battling the perils of pot at a time when legalization is all the rage.
“I think it’s a disaster,” he told “Power Players” of the rapid growth in sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington and medicinal pot in 18 other states.
It “will damage the young people in that state. It will damage the industries in the state, and put the highways in jeopardy,” he said. “Plus, it's against federal law and the Constitution and our international treaties.”
Bensinger argued that the public, and politicians now pushing to legalize the drug, have been duped by the “myth” that marijuana can do no harm.
“You'll dissipate a drink in about an hour per drink; marijuana can stay in your body for a week,” he said. “It goes to where we're fattest, which is our brain. … It causes short-term memory loss if used chronically. It impacts on the immune system if used regularly. It affects your depth perception.”
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy still haunts the U.S. Secret Service 50 years on.
“Quite obviously, we failed,” Secret Service deputy director A.T. Smith told “Power Players” during an exclusive interview this week inside the agency’s headquarters, located a few blocks from the White House.
“At the time, it seemed like we had done all that we could do. But in the end, we didn't do enough because we did lose a president, and that is not what coincides with our protective mission,” Smith said.
While the agency has had a near-perfect record of presidential protection since 1963, Smith said the Kennedy anniversary remains a “significant,” if uncomfortable, moment for reflection every year.
Since Kennedy’s time, the Secret Service has undergone dramatic changes, some prompted by the Warren Commission Report, others by Congress. The agency has added countersniper units, intelligence analysts, assault teams and a technical security division to address threats from explosive devices.
Its budget has grown from a few million dollars in 1963 to more than a billion last year. Its ranks have swelled to more than 7,000 agents and staff.