D.C. Councilman Pushes Marijuana Legalization

Sep 22, 2013

The first med­ical mar­i­juana stores opened in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., less than two months ago, but the D.C. Coun­cil is already con­sid­er­ing legal­iz­ing the drug. At-large Coun­cil­man David Grosso, an inde­pen­dent, intro­duced leg­is­la­tion Tues­day to legal­ize mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion and con­sump­tion for adults over 21. “Most peo­ple under­stand the role that mar­i­juana has played in our com­mu­nity: Unlike what was touted for years dur­ing the ‘War on Drugs’ that it’s a gate­way drug, really all marijuana’s been is a gate­way to arrest and a life­time of strug­gling with the jus­tice sys­tem,” he says. If enacted, the law would levy a 10 per­cent tax on recre­ational mar­i­juana and 6 per­cent on med­ical mar­i­juana. It would also autho­rize the Alco­holic Bev­er­age Reg­u­la­tion Admin­is­tra­tion to issue licenses to recre­ational mar­i­juana stores. Grosso believes it would com­ply with Jus­tice Depart­ment guid­ance issued Aug. 29, which said state-level mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion will be tol­er­ated if busi­nesses are tightly reg­u­lated. Nobody has approached him to express inter­est in open­ing a shop, but about 100 con­stituents have emailed with sup­port­ive mes­sages, he said. Grosso isn’t the only coun­cil­man push­ing for mar­i­juana reform. Coun­cil­man Tommy Wells, a Demo­c­ra­tic can­di­date for mayor, intro­duced a decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill July 10 to reduce penal­ties for pos­ses­sion of up to an ounce of mar­i­juana to a $100 fine ver­sus the cur­rent stan­dard of up to six month in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. “Rest assured that folks are going to be push­ing for my bill at any hear­ing on Wells’ bill,” Grosso says. “I think what will hap­pen is Coun­cil­man Wells will have a hear­ing on decrim­i­nal­iza­tion, and peo­ple will show up and say, ‘Hey, this doesn’t go far enough!’ and then I think it would be smart for them to move for­ward with my bill.” Although he sup­ports the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill, along with a major­ity of the coun­cil, Grosso fears it won’t address the core issues of vio­lence and crim­i­nal­ity asso­ci­ated with the cur­rent black mar­ket for drugs. “There’s going to be an increase in demand with decrim­i­nal­iza­tion, but there isn’t going to be any­where safe for peo­ple to go pur­chase mar­i­juana,” Grosso says. “They’re still going to be on the street cor­ners, we’re still going to have prob­lems with vio­lence on the street, with peo­ple get­ting arrested for non­vi­o­lent offenses.” Coun­cil­man Mar­ion Barry, a co-sponsor of the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill, is “fully sup­port­ive” of mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion, said Grosso, who also intro­duced a bill that would auto­mat­i­cally seal the crim­i­nal records of non­vi­o­lent mar­i­juana cases. That bill may be adopted inde­pen­dently or as part of the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill, he said. A study released in June by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union showed Wash­ing­ton, D.C., had a higher mar­i­juana arrest rate per capita than any of the 50 states. About 846 in 100,000 dis­trict res­i­dents were arrested for mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion in 2010, and black res­i­dents were 8.05 times more likely to be nabbed. Con­gress has the author­ity to block D.C. laws and did so for years after a 1998 ref­er­en­dum in which city res­i­dents voted for med­ical mar­i­juana. Grosso says times have changed, how­ever, and he doesn’t believe Con­gress would block imple­men­ta­tion of a council-approved legal­iza­tion bill. “The mood is turn­ing, the tide is turn­ing,” he says. A voter-initiated legal­iza­tion ref­er­en­dum, he added, isn’t ideal, but it may be suc­cess­fully pushed by res­i­dents next year if the coun­cil doesn’t act first. Source: U.S. News & World Report (US) Author: Steven Nel­son Pub­lished: Sep­tem­ber 19, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 U.S. News & World Report Web­site: http://​www​.usnews​.com/

77d227bfd69.bin .jpg 150x96 D.C. Councilman Pushes Marijuana Legalization

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D.C. Coun­cil­man Pushes Mar­i­juana Legalization

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