Photo Credit: Christian Vetter
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill on Thursday that will allow Washington DC to establish a recreational marijuana market, similar to that of Colorado and Washington states.
Washington DC passed Initiative 71 at the end of last year with an overwhelming majority, though certain aspects of the Initiative were blocked by a legislative rider attached to an omnibus spending bill in mid-December. The spending bill famously ended the federal ban on medical marijuana, though the rider barred the use of funds to, “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or reduce penalties associated with possession, use, or distribution of any schedule 1 substance, or tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.” This was specifically aimed at preventing commercialization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, as the banned spending mandates would be required to make it a reality.
The new spending bill adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee effectively ends the congressional ban, though it must still pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president. If passed, Washington D.C. will be allowed to establish a regulated marijuana market, gaining all of the benefits that come along with it – namely tighter controls & tax revenue. Under current policy, D.C. residents can possess, use, and grow marijuana – including having the right to gift up to an ounce to a friend who is 21 years of age or older. If that sounds strange, it’s because it is. Imagine being allowed to possess, consume, produce, and even gift alcohol, but not having the right to sell it. Essentially this creates a much bolder black market by making it harder to prosecute offenders, while putting the public at risk by not establishing standards for the products they’re consuming. How much alcohol is in this beer you ask? 3 to 7%. Amount of calories?? Isn’t there an app for that? Just drink it already!
The same committee also approved an amendment today that would allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses in places that it is legal. This is a major step forward as many marijuana businesses are forced to operate with cash only transactions, and since they don’t have access to the banking system, they tend to hoard most of their cash on site. Not only does this make them a target for robberies, but it also gives birth to an environment where it is easy to misreport your earnings since cash transactions aren’t easy to track.
There are those in the government who would love nothing more than to see marijuana legalization fail, but crafting the rules in such a way to ensure its failure will surely backfire in the age of transparency. Long passed are the times when government could order a ‘scientific’ study to produce results in tune with their own rhetoric. As the truth about marijuana and the failed war on drugs becomes more accessible, public support for the end of prohibition grows. As Uncle Bob taught us, “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
Enjoy Your Roll