D.C. Could Beat California to Legalize Weed

Printed on license plates in Washington, DC is the Patriotic message, “Taxation Without Representation.” It’s a cheeky reminder that while the District is where the decisions that rule the nation are made (or at least the ones that aren’t made in Wall Street boardrooms), D.C. itself has no representative in Congress or elsewhere, and little say in how things are done in the capital city.

Except with weed, as in legal weed. D.C. already has the odd juxtaposition of legal medical cannabis users outside of the halls of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and now a councilmember wants to go one step further with a bill to legalize and tax small amounts of the drug for all adults.

If passed, it would not only mean that more legally stoned people would be outside the drug czar’s office, but it would mean California is really behind.

As we noted in our cover story yesterday, a majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization for all adults. Support for ending at least the marijuana portion of the Drug War is at an all-time high.

But that said, California doesn’t seem willing or able to grapple with this reality. Whether it’s because the state is too big or too fractious or just too entrenched, repeated efforts to regulate even medical weed have failed in Sacramento.

Much of the resistance could be generational. Former San Francisco Mayor and now U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for example, has never been a fan of legal weed (and even went as far as to skip last week’s historic hearing on the Justice Department’s Aug. 29 memo on how states can allow the drug without federal interference).

Speaking of which, Washington, D.C.’s very own medical cannabis program appears to be going smoothly, with none of the crackdowns or overt hostility from law enforcement that’s plagued California. The small-scale program appears to be complying with the outlines in the Justice Department memoCapital City Care is legally supplying cannabiswithin three miles of the White House and the U.S. Capitol as we speak.

As it happens, there are two efforts right now to legalize cannabis in D.C. — a bill in the Council and a ballot initiative in the works. As it also happens, D.C. leads the country in marijuana arrest rates, according to WAMU: there are 846 people busted for pot per 100,000 residents, almost double the rate of second-place New York (sorry, Bloomberg).

Councilman David Grosso’s bill is modeled after the Washington and Colorado efforts. And if lawmakers should fail, Adam Eidinger and DCMJ 2014 will resubmit a ballot initiative for next year to legalize the drug.

If that doesn’t spur lawmakers in California and nationwide to act, at least it’ll make weed impossible to ignore.

D.C. Could Beat California to Legalize Weed

Article by Chris Roberts for SF Weekly