For the past few years, Congress has prevented the District of Columbia from establishing a retail pot market, but that is not stopping one of the city’s most influential legislative forces from taking the necessary action to put DC on the path to legally selling marijuana.
On Tuesday, Councilmember David Grosso introduced a bill entitled the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017, which begs the creation of a taxed and regulated cannabis market that would give adults 21 and over the freedom to buy weed in the same manner as they do alcohol.
The only problem with the bill is that it’s technically against the grain of federal law for the DC Council to give this, or another marijuana-related proposal, the slightest consideration.
Nevertheless, Grosso wants to go for it anyway.
"It would be a violation of federal law to move this bill forward," Grosso told The DCist. "But I believe, quite passionately, that is what is called for in the District of Columbia when our rights are trampled on a regular basis."
In 2014, Initiative 71 legalized the cultivation, possession and transfer of marijuana throughout the District, but the law did not come with a provision to establish a legal cannabis trade. Unfortunately, before the DC Council could pass legislation to change this crucial detail, Congress swiftly passed an amendment to a federal spending bill that prevents Uncle Sam’s money from being used to enact any legislation of this kind.
But the pot-block has gone on long enough, says Grosso, who wants the District to “go ahead and violate the federal law” in hopes of catalyzing some change. However, he admits it is not likely he will gain the necessary support from city officials to effectively challenge Congress in 2017.
"We all have to be on the same page to [defy Congress] and, by introducing this, is frankly all I can do," Grosso said.
According to a recent report from ArcView Market Research and New Frontier, the DC pot market could be worth in upwards of $94 million by 2020 if legalization happens within the next year.
We could see this issue heat up in April, when the latest federal spending bill is set to expire.