Stoners in the District of Columbia may have legal access to retail marijuana in the near future. At a press conference earlier this week, mayor-elect Muriel Bowser said that establishing a taxed and regulated marijuana market in the nation’s capital is a concept well within the scope of attainability. She told reporters that she and her team were making it a priority to develop a system to sell legal marijuana in the District and planned to discuss the issue later this month.
“We’ll turn our attention to it, look at the experiences of other states to make sure we’re not making mistakes that have already been made, and put a system in place,” she said. “I see no reason why we wouldn’t follow a regime similar to how we regulate and tax alcohol.”
Although voters showed up to the polls on Tuesday and approved a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the District, the law does not allow for the existence of a retail market. However, the DC Council held a meeting prior to the general election to begin discussing a bill that would give the city the option to put a tax and regulated marijuana market in place if voters did, in fact, support Initiative 71.
During the press conference, Bowser gave every indication that she wanted to see a retail marijuana market in the District as soon as possible. However, for now, the DC Council must contend with the possibility of Congress snuffing out the recently passed initiative during a 30-day evaluation. If all goes well, DC residents will legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana by the Spring of 2015.
Yet, just as it was when the DC Council voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana earlier this year, some members of Congress have vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure legal weed does not happen in the backyard of the White House. Representative Andy Harris told reporters that he plans to assemble some hijinks in hopes of putting the kibosh the new law, especially since there now exists the possibility of it being coupled with a retail market.
“I know it’s a bad idea. It’s bad for the brains of children whose use of marijuana is going to increase with legalization. That’s what happened with every state that’s legalized. It shouldn’t happen in our backyard, it shouldn’t happen in our nation’s capital. They’re taking this step way too soon after decriminalization,” said Harris.
Not even supporters of Initiative 71 agree wholeheartedly with Bowser’s desire to establish retail sales, because they say the measure was always more about allowing people to grow their own. “We always wanted this to be about home cultivation,” said Adam Eidinger with the DC Cannabis Campaign. “They should respect the will of the voters.”