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Low-level possession and home cultivation of marijuana have been legal in the American capital since voters passed a ballot measure on the issue in 2014. But consumers there have had no legal place to purchase cannabis.

That could soon change under legislation that Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced May 2, 2019, that she is sending to the District of Columbia Council for consideration.

The mayor and a majority of council members have for several years supported adding a legal sales component to the city's marijuana law, but they have been blocked by a federal spending rider continually approved by Congress that prevents the district from using local funding to pay for it.

Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, supporters are hopeful that the provision will be removed from 2020 appropriations legislation.

The January 2019 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Anacostia Organics drew Washington, D.C., dignitaries. The minority-owned and operated dispensary is part of an effort to expand access into less affluent neighborhoods and also address issues of social justice. Left to right: Patient Care Specialist Lindsay Wood, treasurer and chief financial officer H. Marrel Foushee; co-founders Yolanda Caraway and Sherri Blount; D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, co-owner Linda Mercado Greene and her daughter Tamia Harper, district Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilman Trayon White and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. (Courtesy photo)

In the meantime, the mayor believes she and council members can take basic preparatory steps such as introducing a bill and moving it through the Council's legislative process so that that city will be ready to implement a legal sales program as soon as Congress removes the roadblock to enactment.

Bowser announced details of the legislation at a press conference on May 2, 2019, calling federal spending rider a “shameful abuse of congressional power that has left us with a significant public safety problem.”

“Right now our laws are basically leading adults who want to use cannabis to an illegal market,” she said. “And illegal markets aren't safe.”

Bowser's proposal would allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of usable cannabis flower; 5 grams of concentrates; 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of edibles; or 72 fluid ounces, or 2.13 liters, of liquid cannabinoid products per day.

Delivery services and on-site consumption at dispensaries would be allowed.

Illustration courtesy of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser's office.

A 17% tax would be applied at the point of sale, with revenues going toward housing and health programs.

The bill would create licenses for cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, retail, and testing businesses, and the city's existing medical cannabis providers would get a six-month head start on the adult-use market before other facilities could be licensed.

Bowser's legislation would require that 60% of owners of new marijuana licenses and 60% of employees be D.C. residents.

It would also provide for the automatic sealing of prior criminal records for most marijuana offenses.

Illustration courtesy of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser's office.

“It's now time to move the D.C. cannabis economy into a regulated marketplace,” National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Political Director Justin Strekal said. “With thoughtful regulations, city leaders will restrict access by minors, ensure product quality and consumer safety, improve community-police relations and generate revenue to reinvest in the areas that have been hardest hit by the failed policy of marijuana criminalization. Congress must respect the will of D.C. residents and allow the duly elected representatives to do their job.”

Democratic Council Chair Phil Mendelson told a Washington Post reporter May 2, 2019, that the body will hold hearings on the legislation.


This article was republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.

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