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.
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.
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.”
Last week, District of Columbia Council Member David Grosso and three of his colleagues made it clear that Congressional bullying wasn’t going to stop them from considering a more rational approach to marijuana. On January 6, they quietly introduced legislation to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
This sensible proposal comes on the heels of voters’ overwhelming vote for Initiative 71, which will make marijuana possession and limited cultivation legal for adults 21 and older when it becomes effective. It also comes just four weeks after Congress approved a spending bill that prohibits the District from spending any money to enact a law to legalize “recreational marijuana” until at least through this summer.
The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2015 would create a framework for a legal and responsible marijuana industry, complete with licensed cultivators, product manufacturers, retail stores, and testing labs. Allowing licensed businesses to grow and sell marijuana to adults 21 and older will create jobs, increase tax revenues, and allow D.C.’s law enforcement to direct their focus on more serious matters. Regulating these businesses means D.C. will know who is selling marijuana, under what conditions, where, and to whom.
If you are a resident of the District of Columbia, please email your council members today and ask them to support B21-0023! Let them know that D.C.’s elected lawmakers, not Congress, should decide District policy. Then, please pass this on to other District residents.
After the passage of Initiative 71 in November, which made small amounts of marijuana legal for adults in the nation’s capital, D.C. residents are awaiting approval from Congress when the new session resumes in January. Despite limited opposition, statements by the new chairs of two key committees are making advocates hopeful that Congress will not interfere.
According to Roll Call:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, won a four-way contest for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on November 18. Two days later, he met with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to lay the groundwork for a working relationship.
In a statement, Norton expressed optimism that Chaffetz would continue the tradition of staying out of D.C. affairs. The Utah Republican acknowledged that members of Congress “have a role to play” in oversight over the District, though he said he does not expect the committee to interfere unless in an unusual circumstance.
In the Senate, the likely coming chairman of the committee with authority over D.C. shares Chaffetz’s hands-off philosophy.
“I’m somebody who really thinks the federal government should be very limited and where governing is best close to the governed,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who is expected to take the role of chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Nov. 19. “You know, I really look for local control as much as possible so I’ll try and – unless there’s some real massive imperative—let D.C. governance take care of itself.”
One of the first District issues Chaffetz and Johnson will confront as chairmen is how to address making marijuana legal in the D.C., since voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative to make the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana legal.
Both Chaffetz and Johnson are personally against the adult use of marijuana, but Johnson indicated that he would be open to holding a hearing to examine how legal marijuana is playing out in the four states that passed similar measures.
Given the successful implementation of legal marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington and the overwhelming support from voters, Congress should enable D.C. to move forward as well.
Voters in two states, the fourth largest city in Maine, and the nation’s capital approved ballot measures to end marijuana prohibition and implement more sensible marijuana policies, capping off a historic election year for marijuana policy reform.
Alaska and Oregon are now the third and fourth states to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, following Colorado and Washington. As of early this morning, Oregon’s Measure 91 led 54-46 with 75% of the votes counted. Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 led 52-48 with 97% of the state’s precincts reporting.
Voters in South Portland, Maine approved Question 2 52-48 as well, making it the second East Coast city to make marijuana legal for adult use at the local level. A similar ballot measure in Lewiston, Maine came in close; it received 45% of the vote and did not pass.
In Washington, D.C., voters approved Initiative 71 by an overwhelming margin of 65-28, removing all penalties for the possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by adults.
Moreover, an overwhelming majority of Florida voters — 58% — approved Amendment 2, which would have allowed patients with serious and debilitating conditions access to medical marijuana upon a physician’s recommendation. Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass because Florida state law requires 60% support for approval.
Nonetheless, yesterday’s historic election was largely successful and demonstrated that American citizens are ready to end marijuana prohibition in the country for good.
We will update the details of election results if new data becomes available.
By an overwhelming margin, D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, which will allow adults 21 and older to use, possess, and grow limited amounts of marijuana! The new law, which will not take effect until after it successfully clears a 30-day Congressional review period, legalizes limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by those 21 and older under D.C. law. Check out our summary here. Please note that it does nothing to change federal law, under which marijuana is still strictly prohibited.
So much gratitude is owed to the folks at the Yes on 71 campaign who worked tirelessly to get this initiative on the ballot and to ensure its success. Adam Eidinger, Nikolas Schiller, and their entire staff and volunteers, along with Dr. Malik Burnett and his colleagues from the Drug Policy Alliance, ran a smooth campaign focusing on the injustice of marijuana prohibition that clearly resonated with D.C. voters.
While there is much cause for celebration, passage of I-71 is just the first step. The law does not become operational unless and until it clears a 30-day Congressional review. This should happen sometime in February or March of 2015. In addition, the initiative does not create a legal, regulated market for marijuana. Please encourage your councilmembers to create such a system.
Thanks again to everyone who worked on this historic effort, and please make sure your friends and family in D.C. have heard the news!
Today, states, cities, and the nation’s capital will be voting on marijuana policy ballot measures.
Alaska and Oregon are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. If Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states in the U.S. to end marijuana prohibition.
In Washington D.C., voters are considering Initiative 71, which would make possession of up to two ounces of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, as well as allow adults to cultivate up to six plants in their homes. Two of Maine’s largest cities — Lewiston and South Portland — are also considering citywide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults.
In addition, Florida could become the 24th state to allow people with debilitating illnesses and conditions to access marijuana upon a physician’s recommendation, if voters pass Amendment 2.
Smaller local marijuana policy initiatives and ballot questions are also being considered in many cities across the country.
Needless to say, today is a very important! Please go out and vote to help end marijuana prohibition and implement sensible marijuana policies around the nation. Encourage neighbors, friends, and relatives to do the same! For more Election Day information, please visit headcount.org.
With the November 4 midterm elections less than a week away, voters in the nation’s capital are gearing up to vote on Initiative 71. If passed, it would allow D.C. adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use, grow up to six marijuana plants at home, and give or trade marijuana amongst other adults 21 and over.
Initiative 71, however, does not regulate, tax, or make marijuana sales legal because the capital’s election law does not allow D.C. voter initiatives to have a direct say or impact on the city’s local budget, meaning the initiative would only make the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana legal.
Even so, the measure is a strong step in the right direction towards implementing a more sensible marijuana policy in the nation’s capital. If you would like to get involved, the DC Cannabis Campaign is looking for as many volunteers as possible to work the polls to ensure that the initiative passes. Their goal is at least 286 volunteers — two per precinct. Please fill out this form to help the cause!
Supporting Washington, D.C.’s ballot initiative 71, which would make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, makes sense in terms of economics, safety, and fairness, according to Economics21.
If the initiative passes on November 4, it would eliminate the criminal and civil penalties associated with personal possession, private use, and cultivation of marijuana — within limits (two ounces for possession, no use in public places, and six plants).
In terms of safety, the infamous argument that marijuana is a gateway drug and leads individuals to resort to harder drugs has repeatedly been called into question. Moreover, a Rand Corporation research report concluded:
“The harms of marijuana use can no longer be viewed as necessarily including an expansion of hard-drug use and its associated harms.”
In terms of legal marijuana’s economic viability, there are many benefits found in easing the burden on legal and corrections systems, money which can be used to fund various beneficial measures associated with public health and safety and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crime
Lastly, marijuana possession makes up nearly half of all drug arrests. The arrests of those who have been labeled as criminals for committing low-level crimes make it significantly harder to find employment.
In an interview in 2013, former Secretary of State George Schultz said, “According to the World Health Organization, the use of drugs is higher in the United States than most comparable countries. So you have to say that the war on drugs has simply not worked... We have wound up with a large number of young people in jail, mostly blacks, a huge cost, and a debilitating one to our society. And big foreign policy costs.”
In the end, it is quite clear that voting yes on Initiative 71 is the safer, fairer, and smarter choice. Please vote November 4 and lead the nation’s capital towards establishing a more sensible approach to marijuana policy. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!