D.C. mayor pitches bill to legalize recreational marijuana sales in nation’s capital

May 2, 2019

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pitched legislation Thursday to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana in the city.

Ms. Bowser, a Democrat, said she is asking the city council to consider a bill that would allow licensed retail marijuana dispensaries to operate legally in the nation’s capital.

“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 communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire D.C. residents,” Ms. Bowser said on Twitter prior to an afternoon press conference announcing her proposal.

Washingtonians voted in 2014 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and that law allows adults to use, grow and give but not buy or sell limited amounts.

If successful, Ms. Bowser’s proposal would further loosen the District’s pot laws by letting adults purchase various forms of marijuana from licensed dispensaries.

Adults would be able to buy up to one ounce of marijuana flower, five grams of concentrates, 16 ounces of edibles or 72 ounces of liquid cannabinoid products per day from licensed retailers under Ms. Bowser’s proposal, The Washington Post first reported.

Recreational marijuana sales would be taxed at 17 percent, and revenue would be allocated toward citywide housing and health programs, the report said.

In addition to paving the way for retail pot shops to operate, the proposal would also set the stage for D.C. to starting issuing licenses for the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and testing of recreational marijuana, The Post reported.

Phil Mendelson, chairman of the D.C. Council, said lawmakers will hold hearings on the legislation, adding that “there’s no question that we need to legalize and regulate sales.”

Passage of the bill does not necessarily mean legal marijuana dispensaries will open anytime soon in D.C., however. The district’s unique status as the nation’s capital requires Congress to sign off on any potential city laws.

Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and accordingly prohibited under federal law, but most states have legalized the plant for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Thirty-three states and D.C. have legalized medicinal marijuana in the face of federal prohibition, including 10 that have gone further by legalizing recreational use among adults.

Seven of the 10 states to legalized recreational marijuana Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state currently allowed licensed dispensaries to sell retail pot.