DC Council Approves Bill to Tax and Regulate Weed

It has been less than a month since voters in the District of Columbia approved an initiative to legalize the cultivation and possession of recreational marijuana, and already lawmakers are moving forward with a measure to establish a taxed and regulated pot market similar to Colorado and Washington state.

During a Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs meeting earlier this week, council members put their stamp of approval on a piece of legislation that would legalize the distribution and sale of cannabis in the nation’s capital. The latest measure is hot on the heels of the passing of Initiative 71, which received overwhelming support in November’s general election – 70% voted in favor of legalizing weed.

Just days after the election, it was apparent that city officials were fully prepared to upgrade the initiative from a farmhouse amendment, allowing the personal cultivation of up to six plants, to a revenue generating powerhouse. On Tuesday, council members gave the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” its initial approval, but it must now go before a secondary committee before all thirteen members of the council can put it to a vote.

“Today’s vote in support of regulating marijuana like alcohol in the nation’s capital is a validation of the overwhelming support among District residents for an end to the racial disparities and harm caused by marijuana prohibition,” said Grant Smith with the Drug Policy Alliance. “D.C. lawmakers have a clear mandate from the community they serve to pass a bill that regulates marijuana and restores those communities that have been harmed the most by decades of marijuana prohibition.”

The DC Council is not expected to make any substantial progress on the bill until sometime next month. Yet, pot proponents doubt that any decisions will be made regarding this effort until after the group reconvenes in January.

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