The District of Columbia’s recently passed voter Initiative 71, which legalized the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana in the nation’s capital, has nearly survived its 30-day congressional review and the new law is set to take effect within next week.
Soon, adults 21 and older will be able to possess up to two ounces of weed, grow six plants in their backyard, and give weed away to friends without risking the wrath of a law enforcement shakedown. However, an article published Monday in The Washington Post indicates “chaos” could erupt in the wake of legalization because the federal government has hindered the D.C. Council from exploring a regulatory system to control the market from coming unhinged.
The problem, at least in the eyes of some District lawmakers, is that while cannabis has achieved legal status in the backyard of the White House, there is bound to be an uprising in borderline black market dealings because the law does not come attached with regulations to facilitate consumers in the legal purchase of cannabis.
“Where can it be bought? Sold? Eaten? Smoked? We’re not going to have answers to any of that, and that makes me very concerned,” D.C. Council member David Grosso told the Post. “And as the consequences play out in the nation’s capital, he said, it could set back the entire movement: “Let’s be responsible about how we do this so we don’t have a negative image coming out.”
Unlike Colorado, cannabis consumers in the District will not have the luxury of purchasing herb at a local pot shop. Yet, reports indicate that plans have already begun for cannabis clubs, which will provide members with recreational marijuana for an annual fee, while there are rumors that catered cannabis cuisine, paid for through donations, will be offered throughout the city.
Tiffany Bowden with Comfy-Tree, one of the organizers of a Marijuana Expo set to get underway later this month on Capitol Hill, claims these types of businesses are just the beginning for the marijuana market in Washington D.C. “The District will be unique because you can’t technically sell cannabis directly,” she said. “All that means is the traditional dispensary model as we know it will not happen. But that doesn’t mean the cannabis industry is going to be asleep. It’s actually going to be thriving in Washington.”
This deviation from the traditional model, like the system established in Colorado, is what some predict will lead to Chaos D.C. – all due to Congress’ willingness to interfere with the District’s marijuana laws. The fear is that industrious minds have read between the lines of the initiative and are preparing to get a piece of the seemingly non-existent market share when the law comes to pass on February 26.
According to the Post, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is guiding the police department on how to handle the new law, but there are still so many unanswered questions, especially with regard to cannabis consumption and the definition of “remuneration.” In fact, during a recent meeting with Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council member Grosso asked her what would happen to someone caught smoking a joint outside a “cannabis club,” and she was unable to deliver an answer.
Interestingly, Initiative 71 was drafted to encourage home cultivation, and was in no way intended to be a stepping-stone to a retail pot market. Yet, while D.C. lawmakers are crippled in their efforts to establish a taxed and regulated pot market for at least the next year, it appears entrepreneurs are preparing to push the envelope of the law in order to capitalize on weed once it is officially legal… but will this equate chaos? Challenges, maybe, but certainly nothing beyond a reasonable solution.