On November 4, 2014, Washington D.C. voters approved an initiative to decriminalize cannabis for adult use. The bill went into effect a few months later on February 26, 2015.
But while adult residents are free to possess up to two ounces of cannabis at a time, they have no way of legally buying or selling it. Congress has attached a provision to federal budgets since 2014 that prohibits the District from establishing a system of taxation and regulation.
“This status quo has led to a confusing and problematic state of affairs with residents and businesses unclear on what is legal, what is not, and wondering how it can be that it is legal to possess marijuana but not to buy or sell it,” said Grosso. “We need to fix this. The new reality on Capitol Hill means that chances of D.C. legalizing marijuana sales are greater than ever.”
In an effort to create a solution for cannabis consumers, councilmember David Grosso [I] has introduced a version of a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis in the District every year since 2013. Grosso is hoping a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will aid the passage of his bill in 2019.
“Since D.C. voters approved initiative 71 to decriminalize recreational marijuana, we have seen marijuana-related arrests plummet, representing thousands of District residents who were spared needless involvement in the judicial system,” stated Grosso in a news release. “The next logical step, to continue to reduce arrests and bring marijuana totally out of the shadows, is to set up a strong tax and regulatory system.”
Last week, Grosso and fellow councilmembers Anita Bonds, and Brianne Nadeau introduced the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act once again, but with added provisions to compensate for racial disparities in the War on Drugs.
Grosso calls the War on Drugs a failure that is responsible for increasing the mass incarceration problem in the United States while failing to fix the drug dependency issue. He says that along with policy change, there need to be proactive efforts to repair the damage that has been done.
Criminal convictions relating to marijuana would be automatically expunged under the bill.