Pot-friendly lawmakers in the District of Columbia have done everything in the name of reforming the marijuana laws in our nation’s capital. Earlier this year, the DC Council voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, while a ballot initiative to be decided in the 2014 midterm election could take that concept a step further by legalizing cannabis for recreational use.
Unfortunately, even if voters approve the District’s latest referendum, there is nothing written in the language that would allow for a taxed and regulated pot market, like those in Colorado and Washington state. Therefore, while DC residents would enjoy some minute level of pot reform, the city would not receive any of the economic benefits associated with operating a fully legal cannabis industry.
Some legislators, however, hope this will not be the case for much longer. The DC Council met last week to discuss a proposal aimed at establishing a retail marijuana market that would be governed similar to the business of selling alcohol.
“It is time to end the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition. It has … made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens,” Stacia Cosner with Students for Sensible Drug Policy testified before the council.
The goal of the proposed measure, which was introduced by Councilman David Grosso, is to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, while allowing the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to act as the whip-cracking regulators over the industry. If the law is passed, recreational marijuana would be taxed to the tune of 15 percent and six percent on medicinal sales.
The taxes derived from the recreational sector, however, would go towards funding drug prevention programs and other so-called public services, which appears to be the trend with this type of legislation.
Opposing forces beat a dead horse on Thursday by testifying that legalizing weed would be a detriment to young people living in poverty throughout the District. “A growing number of medical studies are showing the true dangers of marijuana,” said Lanre Falusi, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Yet, supporters argued that the potential dangers of marijuana were nothing in comparison to the perils of prohibition. “I don’t think you can do more harm, in the District of Columbia or in this country, than putting them behind bars,” said Grosso.