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D.C. Introduces Legislation To Tax And Regulate Marijuana


washington dc marijuana legalizationLegislation Would Make Small Amounts of Marijuana Legal to Purchase and Possess

Historic Introduction Follows U.S. Department of Justice Decision to Allow Taxation and Regulation to Proceed in Colorado and Washington State

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) will introduce legislation today before the Council of the District of Columbia that would eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 and provide the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration with the authority to license and regulate the production and taxable sale of marijuana in the District.

“Marijuana prohibition has disproportionately criminalized black and brown people and wasted scarce law enforcement resources,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Following the introduction of marijuana decriminalization legislation by Councilmember Tommy Wells, Councilmember David Grosso’s proposal to tax and regulate marijuana will enhance efforts to provide District residents with relief from prohibitionist policies that have failed to curb the availability of marijuana to young people. Our nation’s Capital would be wise to follow Colorado and Washington,” said Smith.

Introduction of this legislation comes after recent developments elevated marijuana law reform as a major issue in the District. Over the summer, both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights and Urban Affairs released reports documenting enormous racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession in D.C. In early July, D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) introduced legislation that would eliminate criminal penalties and impose a $100 civil fine for adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

In late August, the Department of Justice announced that it would allow the states of Colorado and Washington State to implement ballot initiatives passed by the electorate last year that legalized the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana for adults. Additionally, a Department of Justice memorandum issued to U.S. Attorneys outlined priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing federal marijuana laws and noted that state regulation may further federal interests by reducing organized crime and making marijuana less available to youth. This Department of Justice guidance to federal prosecutors was the subject of an unprecedented hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary earlier this month.

A poll conducted in April by Public Policy Polling, commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project, found that more than 60% of D.C. voters in the survey would support a ballot measure similar to those approved by voters in Colorado and Washington. A solid majority (54%) said that all drug use should be treated as a public health issue and that people should no longer be arrested and locked up for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use.

“As Councilmembers look to end marijuana possession arrests, they should also consider the broad human and fiscal toll that decades of failed drug prohibition has wrought on District residents,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Ultimately, drug use is most effectively addressed as a health issue instead of as a criminal justice issue – and this means that a person should not be criminalized for possession of any drug in D.C.,” said Smith.

A national survey released by the Pew Research Center in April found that, for the first time in its 40 years of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans (52%) support making marijuana legal. Similar national surveys conducted by Gallup and other polling firms have also found majority support for ending marijuana prohibition.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. Portugal decriminalized all drugs some time ago. For about six months, they had problems, then everything smoothed out. Now the government not only does not have to deal with locking people up for drug offenses, worry about drug cartels, waste man hours of law enforcement on drug “crimes”, etc. but they make money through taxes on the drugs. And the drugs are safer because they are being professionally produced, not cut with gods only know what kind of poison. If a person chooses to do drugs (and I am NOT a drug user), they are assured that the drugs they are taking are safe. Or at least as safe as drugs can be.

  2. Now I see what you’re saying. No no, I wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the city’s legislation would have any direct federal impact. I was simply day dreaming about House reps and Senators from both parties taking full advantage of legalized cannabis; maybe if they were all a little bit happier in their off-hours, they’d finally quit with all the partisan games, brinksmanship, etc., get their shyte together, and fix the country.

  3. Bad Boys Bail Bond on

    If weed gets federally decriminalized, will BATFE treat it like cigarettes or like alcohol? Because you can be a known tobacco user/abuser and you still get your gun but not so with alcohol. Current law says a known marijuana user may not have a firearm transferred to him/her. So do all the people on medical marijuana permits now have voided 2A permits? We were told from the top, feds would not support medical or decrim but that same group now wants to support it? Look into why, it sure helps put a ton of 2A supporters on the sidelines if they keep that wording in place……..

  4. Johnny Bloomington on

    A dream it is. I was just thinking that the city of D.C. and the feds aren’t connected anyway.

  5. I was kidding — legalization in DC wouldn’t necessarily translate to anyone in Congress, least of all those who really need to relax, and get back in touch with their conscience.
    Congress could do with more empathy, more compassion, as well as the self awareness to acknowledge their mistakes and fix them. I suppose I found the idea of Democrats and Republicans, quite literally, passing around the peace pipe and working through their differences an appealing notion.

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