DC Mayor Wants to Make It Legal to Sell Recreational Marijuana

By Melanie Arter | May 2, 2019 | 11:32am EDT
(Photo by Simona Granati - Corbis/Getty Images)

It’s already legal to have a small amount of marijuana in the District and to use it on private property. Now the mayor wants to make it legal to sell recreational marijuana.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is set to hold a press conference at noon on Thursday to unveil legislation “that allows for the sale of recreational cannabis and prioritizes public health and safety, advances equity, and provides clarity on the use of cannabis and cannabis products,” according to her website.

The District and 10 other states have legalized recreational use of marijuana.

As it stands now, it’s illegal to sell any amount of marijuana because of a provision in the federal budget that prevents the city from enacting or enforcing marijuana legalization laws.


“Advocates have been hopeful that Congress would strip the anti-marijuana language — which originated with House Republicans — from the federal budget now that Democrats control the House. But it’s unclear whether the next spending plan will pass before or after the 2020 elections. The mayor wants to get moving on legalization before then,” the Washington Post reports.

Bowser told the Post, “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.”

The mayor doesn’t want the city to be “a marijuana destination.”

“We will not be promoting it. We want D.C. residents to be able to have the choice to buy legally, and we also want to drive out the illegal market, which we know can promote violence in our communities,” she said while visiting a medical marijuana cultivation center.


According a draft of the mayor’s bill, which was obtained by the Post, it would “rename the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and task the agency with licensing and overseeing marijuana businesses.”

Eight marijuana cultivation centers that already provide medical marijuana for the city would be authorized to grow recreational marijuana. Six months after the law goes into effect, more licenses can be issued, “but marijuana businesses would not be concentrated in specific neighborhoods and they would have to have discreet signs.”

In addition, Bowser is calling for a 17 percent sales tax on marijuana, and some of the money will be used for housing. The legislation also allows for home delivery.

It’s currently illegal to possess more than two ounces of the drug. It’s also illegal to use marijuana in any public place or operate a vehicle while under the influence.


People can have up to two ounces of weed and transfer up to one ounce of the drug to someone 21 years or older as long as there’s no payment made.

They can also have drug paraphernalia associated with one ounce or less of marijuana.

It’s also legal to grow up to six marijuana plants at home, but no more than three plants can be mature.


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