In November of 2014, the residents of Washington D.C. passed a ballot referendum legalizing marijuana. But the U.S. Congress, which retains a degree of municipal power in the district, passed a measure banning commercial sales of the drug, creating a strange legal grey area that persists until today.
For a D.C. resident who is at least 21-years-old, it is legal to possess two ounces or less of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants on private property. Though it is technically illegal to sell the drug, it is possible to transfer one ounce or less of marijuana to another person, so long as there is no payment made or any other type of exchange of goods or services.
In May, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, launched the petition “Safe Cannabis DC,” following the announcement of a proposal to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana dispensaries in the district.
Bowser has two primary goals – providing legal clarity and safe, legal options for her resident’s marijuana users, and directing the profits from legal cannabis away from the black market and into local communities, particularly predominantly black and brown ones that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.
“We want to be able to regulate, we want to be able to make sure we are collecting our fair share in taxes, we want to invest those taxes in ways that affect communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire D.C. residents,” she told the Washington Post.
“For far too long the possession of marijuana has been a pipeline to prison, especially for black men in DC and across the nation. Today, we are taking a bold step to replace that pipeline with a pathway to prosperity,” she added.
In 2017, over 650,000 Americans