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Jacquelyn Martin, File, Associated Press
In this Oct. 9, 2014 file photo, posters encouraging people to vote yes on DC Ballot Initiative 71 to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use are readied in Washington. Possession of marijuana will become legal in the nation's capital, Mayor Muriel Bowser reiterated Wednesday, defying a threat from Congress that she and other city leaders could face prison time for implementing a voter-approved initiative. Bowser, a Democrat, said the city's plans haven't changed despite a letter from two leading House Republicans warning of repercussions if the city moves forward with legalization, which was set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has defied threats from Congress and moved forward with legalizing possession of marijuana after a voter-approved initiative.

Despite last-minute maneuvers by Republican leaders in Congress and threats that city leaders could face prison time, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city is implementing marijuana legalization as approved by voters. The new law took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

The initiative legalizes possession of up to 2 ounces for use at home, and people will also be permitted to grow up to three mature plants. Smoking marijuana in public remains illegal, as does buying or selling the drug.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, urged Bowser on Tuesday to reconsider her plans to implement the initiative. He says doing so violates federal law.