There is a progressive, yet bizarre, undertaking currently in the works in our nation’s capital, one in which area lawmakers are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana sales, while the big dogs squatting on Capitol Hill continue to gnaw on the bone of prohibition.
Earlier last week, the District of Columbia Council proved that they were no longer pussy-footing around with efforts to reform the marijuana laws in Washington DC by putting their initial stamp of approval on a measure aimed at establishing a taxed and regulated pot market similar to the scene in Colorado and Washington state.
A council roundtable known as the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs voted on Tuesday to approve a bill, introduced last year by Council Member David Grosso, which would allow the marijuana trade to be handled by the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. This department now has about six months to formulate regulations for the market, a move that could legalize pot sales in the backyard of the White House by sometime in 2016.
This high speed upgrade to the recently passed Initiative 71, which received support from nearly 70 percent of the DC voters in November’s general election, is somewhat of a slap in the face to pot proponents whose vision was to avoid commercializing marijuana by simply allowing District residents to cultivate their own personal crop without running the risk of prosecution. Although this move was embraced wholeheartedly for about three days, lawmakers swapped in shortly after its passing and announced that they would not stop until retail pot sales were in full swing.
This is where the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” was apparently resurrected. Perhaps feeling the pressure from area lawmakers, the DC Council reached into their archives and pulled out this bill, one that at its most basic level would combine the recreational and medicinal sectors of the marijuana industry and tax the product to the tune of between 6 and 15 percent.
So far, the committee has approved several sections of the bill, but there are still 10 additional sections still lingering in political purgatory that will need to be agreed upon before moving forward for a vote by the full DC Council.
There is speculation that lawmakers will not make any substantial advancement on the bill until they reconvene in January.