Less than a month has passed since voters in the nation’s capital approved the initiative to legalize the growing and possession of recreational marijuana. Lawmakers in Washington D.C. have already made progress with a measure which would establish a taxed and regulated marijuana market similar to what Colorado and Washington currently have in place.

Last week the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs met and council members gave their approval on the legislation that will legalize the sale and distribution in the District. The initiative, which passed in November, had 70% of voter approval.

The bill, which actually goes further than the provisions listed in Initiative 71 (the ballot measure that was approved in November), also calls for the elimination of penalties for those in possession of two ounces or less. The initiative did not get into commercial production or distribution.

The bill currently being talked about would combine medical and recreation use into one industry in the district. There would be a lower sales tax on cannabis purchased by those with a doctor’s recommendation, 6% instead of 15% for recreation users.

Similar to bills in other states, the D.C. bill would ban consumption in pot stores and many other locations. The part of the bill dealing with marijuana use says “nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted in public,” which if broadly defined would encompass businesses open to the public. By contrast, Initiative 71 says businesses should be free to “prohibit” or “regulat[e]” marijuana use, meaning that bar and restaurant owners, for example, could choose to allow it.

The “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” got its initial approval from the council but will still need the go ahead from a secondary committee before it can go up for a vote by the members of the council.

“Today’s vote in support of regulating marijuana like alcohol in the nation’s capital is a validation of the overwhelming support among District residents for an end to the racial disparities and harm caused by marijuana prohibition,” said Grant Smith with the Drug Policy Alliance. “D.C. lawmakers have a clear mandate from the community they serve to pass a bill that regulates marijuana and restores those communities that have been harmed the most by decades of marijuana prohibition.”

It isn’t expected that the council will make any substantial decisions towards the measure until after the council comes together again in January


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1 comment
  1. Glad to see D.C. is making some headway. I think big govt. has finally realized they can make some green from all this green and slowly by surely are going to start stop busting people for this and making it easier for legit businesses to stay in business.

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