City Council members in Washington, D.C. got a sample of the kindness of strangers on Tuesday when they were greeted with joints and cannabis seeds on the steps of the Wilson Building as they filed into work. But these strangers were local cannabis activists, and their generosity an act of protest. Assembled under banners bedecked with cannabis leaves, the folks taking IDs and handing out joints presented an unusual scene, but one that highlighted the problem with D.C.’s cannabis laws. And that was exactly the idea. If cannabis activists give joints to Washington lawmakers, maybe they’ll do something about the District’s problematic weed rules.
Exploiting Legal Loopholes
Municipal politics in Washington, D.C. are always a bit more complicated than in the fifty states. And that’s thanks to a rule in the Constitution that gives Congress the right to attach riders to bills passed by City Council.
In this way, federal lawmakers have a direct hand in shaping the laws for residents of the District whose interests they don’t necessarily represent.
And when you have a District that wants legal weed and a Justice Department run by a vehemently anti-cannabis Attorney General who’s vowed to renew the War on Drugs and uphold federal prohibition, contradictions are bound to arise.
Hence, the situation the District is currently facing. Individuals can legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis. But what they can’t do, is sell it.
Predictably, inevitably, the pop-up shops sprung up, well, like weeds. Buy a cheap item for $50 and get a few grams of cannabis as a “gift” to go with it.
Then, the ensuing cat and mouse game with police round-ups, raids, confiscations and arrests. In other words, everything District residents legalized marijuana to avoid.
D.C. voters want the laws to change, but they can’t change them. Because Congress actually forbids the D.C. Council from doing so.
A congressional rider prohibits the sale of cannabis. And further, the rider prevents District lawmakers from passing laws that would reduce criminal penalties for cannabis violations.
So for cannabis activists in D.C., it’s not enough to pressure their lawmakers into legalizing marijuana sales. They have to find a way to get their Council members to pressure Congress into repealing the rider. And that was the focus of the D.C. Cannabis Business Association’s demonstration on Tuesday.
Final Hit: Cannabis Activists Give Joints To Washington Lawmakers During Rally To Legalize Weed Sales
D.C. Cannabis Activists from two affiliated groups, the D.C. Cannabis Business Association and DCMJ, said the action was prompted by increasing police raids on vendors who gift cannabis with other legal purchases.
“The impetus is that the raids have increased,” said the co-founder of DCMJ, Adam Eidinger. “Peoples livelihoods are being threatened.”
Since voters passed Initiative 71 in 2014, cannabis advocates have struggled to establish a regulatory and tax framework for legal cannabis sales. Congress shot down their attempts every time.
Tuesday’s demonstration marked another attempt to spur lawmakers to action. After handing out joints and seeds to anyone 21 and over, cannabis activists headed inside to engage Council members face-to-face.
According to the Washington Post, several Council members accepted the gift of a free, strawberry-flavored joint.
Among them were Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and David Grosso (I-At Large). Grosso is a backer of the District’s medical cannabis program who recently proposed legislation to streamline the enrollment process. Grosso is an enrollee in the program himself.
Other community cannabis supporters were in attendance, including parents advocating for CBD. The Post reports about two dozen people participated in the action where cannabis activists give joints to Washington lawmakers.