This has been a big week for the marijuana industry. Earlier this week, recreational marijuana officially became legal in Alaska. Today, recreational marijuana became legal in the District of Columbia. During the midterm elections, District of Columbia voters overwhelming supported Initiative 71, which legalized recreational marijuana. This initiative went into effect at 12:01a.m Thursday morning.
The District is expected to face strong backlash from Congress, which did not support the initiative and had used its power to intervene and to not allow legalization to occur. On Tuesday, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she will move forward with legalization even after congressional members tried to block the legalization of recreational marijuana back in December. On Tuesday, Republican congressional leaders sent Bowser a letter urging her to reconsider legalizing recreational marijuana. Bowser went ahead and issued a statement saying that they will move ahead with legalization even though some congressional members are trying to block it.
Rules not to get arrested:
You must be 21 years old
Allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana (other states that have recreational marijuana legalization set the limit of possession to 1 ounce)
Residents will also be able to cultivate the plant in their homes — up to six seedlings each, with up to three plants grown to maturity (cultivation must be indoors – no outside gardening or growing on rooftops)
People are only allowed to consume weed in their private residence; smoking outside of your residence is still considered illegal
Marijuana paraphernalia, including pipes, bongs and rolling papers, will be legal
Profiting from pot in almost any way and lighting up anywhere outside a home — including restaurants and parked cars — will be forbidden
Although people are allowed to cultivate the plant, they are unable to sell it legally, and because of this the District will not tax or regulate the plant. Police will still arrest people who they think are buying and/or selling marijuana and they will issue citations to people who smoke in public. People smoking in public are subject to a fine of $500 and jail time of up to 60 days.
Unlike Colorado where they took a year to figure out how marijuana would be bought, sold, tracked, and taxed, Congress would not even allow for a system to be developed. Mayor Bowser is also looking to ask the D.C. Council to implement legislation that would prevent private clubs from forming, such as the coffee shops that operate in Amsterdam.
The basis of the system in Washington D.C. has been given the motto “home grow, home use.”
It looks like Congress cannot do anything to stop the implementation of recreational marijuana. Coming in at 64.9%, voter approval for recreational legalization in the District of Columbia was the highest among any state that passed recreational marijuana legalization laws. The lack of a formal system will prove to be an interesting experiment as this will be the first legalized state with little government oversight.
Mayor Bowser said that, “residents spoke loud and clear when they voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia.” The task now, she said, is “to implement in a safe, fair and transparent way.”