There is some confusion in the District of Columbia over the recently implemented Initiative 71, which legalized recreational marijuana but without a plan to tax and regulate a citywide cannabis industry. The problem seems to be that although DC residents can now legally carry no more than two ounces of weed, cultivate up to three mature plants on private property and transfer up to an ounce to family, friends and even perfect strangers, some have no idea what the new law actually entails. Specifically, no one seems to understand where to get the sweet leaf.
Representatives of DC’s medical marijuana program claim this uncertainty among residents has caused some issues, particularly with individuals who have strolled into dispensaries over the past few days to buy pot because they are under the impression that DC’s cannabis culture now resembles that of Colorado. This has become a big enough problem that at least one of Washington’s three dispensaries has been forced to hang signs on its front door explaining that marijuana cannot be sold to anyone without a medical marijuana certification.
While the philosophy behind Initiative 71 was meant to encourage residents to cultivate their own cannabis, it is readily apparent that the city is lost without a set of rules. Although diehard members of the cannabis community are chomping at the bit to get their initial crop in the ground (or flower pot on the balcony), industry experts predict the novelty of cultivation will be eclipsed by the fact that growing weed can be difficult and expensive — not to mention it requires a lengthy time commitment before the first crop is ready for harvest. This is why cannabusiness operators like Corey Barnette with District Growers believe that home cultivation will not become a popular trend in the nation’s capital.
“Home cultivation has been around in California for years,” Barnette said. “It’s still the largest cannabis market in the country. Home cultivation exists in Colorado, but that hasn’t stifled the recreational market or the medical marijuana market. I don’t think it will have a drastic impact here. We look at it, frankly, like home brewing. A lot of people enjoy beer, but there is not that many who make their own. So, we think there will be people with one or two successful crops, but will they want to do that for the next 10 or 15 years? Probably not.”
However, Alex Jeffrey, executive director of DC NORML, said he wants to teach and encourage District residents to grow pot and perhaps even organize cannabis cultivation communities in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. His goal is to get enough weed growing in DC that the president smells skunk when he steps outside the White House. Jeffrey believes that such a statement might force the hand of Congress and lead officials to end prohibition on a federal level.
During the Comfy Tree Cannabis Expo over the weekend in Washington, DC NORML introduced High Times to Brielle Pettinelli, the inventor of a self-contained grow unit called Root. The compact horticulture system takes the complexity out of cultivation and makes it possible for people without any grow experience to harvest a quality crop.
“I want to put one of these in every residence in DC,” Jeffrey said.
Unfortunately, unless you grow or know someone who is willing to share, the only other way to get your hands on weed in the District of Columbia is to deal with the black market or bamboozle a doctor into giving you a medical recommendation.