Yesterday, Councilman David Grosso introduced a bill to tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older in the District of Columbia! Provisions in the bill also include establishing an automatic expungement program for individuals with past marijuana convictions.
While Initiative 71 legalized the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older, Congress has blocked the District from taxing and regulating sales. But, with change in congressional leadership, Councilman Grosso said the prospects of passing legalization legislation are stronger. Mayor Muriel Bowser has also been vocal about her plans to tax and regulate marijuana in the District.
With no lawful place to purchase non-medical cannabis, D.C. has seen a proliferation of "grey market" operators and a significant increase in arrests for the distribution of marijuana. Regulating and taxing the marijuana market will put the market in the hands of licensed businesses, leading to safer outcomes for consumers and the community, while bringing millions of dollars in tax revenue and hundreds of jobs to the District.
It's important your councilmembers hear from as many constituents as possible. Please contact them today! Then, forward this message to your family and friends in D.C.
Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform.
Michigan has passed legalization! MPP played a central role in this campaign from start to finish. From coordinating the initiative drafting to overseeing the production of TV ads, MPP staffers worked alongside a excellent campaign team for two years to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to adopt legalization. This is a huge win that will maintain our momentum in Washington, D.C. to pass a landmark federal reform bill through Congress in the near future.
Utah passed medical marijuana! MPP led the drafting process and played an important supporting role throughout the campaign. We are so proud of the Utah Patients Coalition team on this historic win that will end the heartless policy of criminalizing patients. If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, then we can pass it in any state in the country…and we will.
In Missouri, voters approved medical marijuana, and they chose the best of the three possible initiatives. We congratulate our allies in the marijuana reform movement for this important win that will help patients access the medicine they need.
Sadly, North Dakota did not pass its legalization initiative. In such a conservative state, it was always an uphill battle. The proponents ran a strong campaign, but in a midterm year, the electorate was always going to be a challenge. North Dakota passed medical marijuana in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before the state adopts legalization, either via ballot initiative or legislative action.
As a movement, we won three out of four states. And for MPP, we’ve now played a leading role in seven of the 10 states that have legalized marijuana for adults (Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Michigan).
We couldn’t do this work without the support of voters, allies, activists, and donors. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these crucial victories last night possible.
In other great news, voters elected at least seven governors who support ending marijuana prohibition — Ned Lamont in Connecticut, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Tim Walz in Minnesota, Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. For more details, check out our elections page.
This year, the National Cannabis Bar Association’s Second Annual Cannabis Law Institute will take place on September 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington University Law School.
Featuring some of the nation’s leading attorneys, academics, and politicians, this event will convene the best minds and visionaries working in the cannabis industry and reform movement for two days of panels and discussion. Programming is focused on education for attorneys, and you can receive 11+ CLE credits for select jurisdictions. Evenings will feature networking events.
We’re excited to announce that MPP’s Deputy Director Matt Schweich will be moderating the panel discussion on Federalism & States’ Rights, which will also include MPP’s Director of Federal Policies, Don Murphy.
You’re invited to attend by registering here. Use the code “friendsofncba” to receive $200 off the full ticket price, and if you are a member of NCBA, you get an additional $100 off.
With over 60 speakers and panelists from organizations like the Brookings Institution, the National Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe Access, and leading cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, the conference will address the most challenging areas of law as they relate to the cannabis industry, including banking, tax, finance, intellectual property, labor and employment, corporate governance, and more. Congressmen Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and David Joyce of Ohio will also be in attendance as part of the keynote conversation on Friday morning.
If you live in the D.C. metro area, you don’t want to miss this important event. We hope to see you there!
In the District of Columbia, Councilmember David Grosso (I, at large) has introduced a bill, B22-0446, that would allow anyone 21 and over to access a dispensary if they provide a signed affidavit that they are using marijuana for medical purposes and are aware of state and federal marijuana laws. It is being co-sponsored by Robert White (D, at large), Brianne Nadeau (D, Ward 1), and Vincent Gray (D, Ward 7).
This bill would allow many more people to access the regulated dispensary system who are currently forced to shop in the grey market if they are unable to cultivate their own cannabis. It will increase public safety, because disputes in illicit markets are often solved with violence, and protect public health, because consumers will know what they are purchasing. The bill would also give patients a safe, lawful place to consume cannabis outside their home.
Additionally, this bill allows D.C. to move forward in expanding access to cannabis in an environment where Congress is blocking it from setting up adult-use retail stores. It gives people who cannot afford to see a doctor access to this medication and could also facilitate access for people who may be struggling with opioid addiction, for whom studies suggest marijuana can be an “exit drug.”
If you are a D.C. resident, please ask your councilmembers to support this bill.
The District of Columbia held its Democratic primary yesterday, and the results are mostly good news for supporters of marijuana policy reform. Below are the (unofficial) results, along with the grade the council candidates received in MPP’s voter guide:
Ward 2: Jack Evans (A+) won (unopposed)
Ward 4: Incumbent Brandon Todd (F) beat challenger Leon Andrews (A), 49% to 41%
Ward 7: Challenger Vincent Gray (C+) beat incumbent Yvette Alexander (D), 60% to 33%
Ward 8: Challenger Trayon White (C+) beat incumbent LaRuby May (D), 51% to 42%
In the at-large race, all the candidates received an A or A+ from MPP. Challenger Robert White beat incumbent Vincent Orange 40% to 37%.
As the general election on November 8 approaches, MPP plans to update our voter guide to keep you informed on all the candidates’ positions, so stay tuned!
A survey release this week by Public Policy Polling showed that 66% of voters in the District of Columbia support Mayor Muriel Bowser pursuing legal methods to allow D.C. to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol despite a Congressional ban.
Voters overwhelming approved Initiative 71 in 2014, which made marijuana legal in the nation's capital, but Congress passed a budget rider that prevents the implementation of regulated commercial cultivation and retail establishments. Provisions related to personal possession and limited home cultivation were unaffected by the law and are currently legal in D.C.
This poll shows that the vast majority of D.C. voters would support the mayor using reserve funds to implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana. This would not only show that D.C. rejects Congressional interference with the will of the voters, but also bring the illicit marijuana market out of the shadows and reap millions in tax revenue.
In addition, 61% of voters are in favor of giving adults a safe and lawful place to consume marijuana outside their homes. Supporters including MPP met with the mayor last week, and she said she was open to working with us and our allies on the D.C. Council to move forward on a compromise that would end the blanket ban on use outside the home, currently set to expire on April 13. This will help restore the rights that D.C. voters supported when they voted yes on Initiative 71.
Even though marijuana is legal for adults to possess and grow in the nation's capital, the only legal place to consume it is in a private residence. Public consumption was not made legal by voters when they approved Initiative 71 in 2014, and the D.C. Council passed an emergency measure that also made consumption at any non-residential private event or location illegal. After hearing complaints from business owners who wish to allow marijuana use their private functions and advocates who noted that a lack of options forced low-income consumers to break the law in order to avoid jeopardizing their public housing, the Council decided to lift the emergency ban.
Minutes later, several council members changed their votes.
Washington Post reports:
The D.C. Council briefly opened the door on Tuesday to legalizing the smoking of marijuana in specially designated areas of public restaurants, music venues and private clubs, by failing to extend a ban on such activity that was put in place when pot was legalized in the city last year.
Within minutes, however, the council reopened debate on the measure, and extended the ban on smoking in private clubs for 90 days.
Council members Ruby May (D-Ward) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) changed their votes after Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he had just heard from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who was urging the council to continue the ban because the city would have no ability to license pot clubs that may spring up.
It is too bad that Mayor Bowser does not see how making these private gatherings legal will allow the city to regulate them much more quickly and effectively, and that illegal operations will proliferate in the vacuum created by this ban. Fortunately, there is still time to address the issue.
Late last week, the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary met to consider B21-0107, which would make permanent an expansion of what is considered “open to the public” for purposes of banning marijuana consumption. This legislation is excessively broad and unnecessary.
Should B21-0107 fail, owners and operators of private clubs and event spaces will be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to allow marijuana consumption by adults 21 and older. Currently, District residents are legally allowed to consume marijuana only in private residences. Because of restrictions on public housing and by some landlords, this leaves some District residents with nowhere they can consume cannabis.
District code already prevents marijuana consumption “any place to which the public is invited,” so marijuana could still not be consumed in bars or restaurants if B21-0107 is defeated.
Congress has prevented the Council from taking further action to treat marijuana like alcohol, but that does not mean they have to adopt excessively broad legislation such as B21-0107. If you are a District resident, ask your council members to oppose advancement of B21-0107 thereby allowing social marijuana use in limited, non-residential, private spaces. Marijuana is safer than alcohol; help us continue to shape policy to recognize this.
Just after midnight last night, a law making marijuana legal for adults quietly went into effect in the Nation's Capital.
Initiative 71, which was approved 70-30 by D.C. voters in November, allows adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana; grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes (of which no more than three can be flowering at a time) and possess the yield of those plants in the location where it was grown; and transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults 21 years of age or older. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public.
Certain members of Congress attempted to halt implementation of this law, even going so far as to threaten D.C. leaders with arrest. Others offered their support, asserting that the District is well within its legal rights to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.
MPP will continue to work with the D.C. Council to pass legislation regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol.
“We are hopeful that Congress will not stand in the way of D.C.’s efforts to regulate and tax marijuana,” said Robert Capecchi, MPP's Deputy Director of State Policies. “Members of the District Council are clearly interested in adopting such a system, and they appear ready to move forward if Congress doesn’t interfere.”