On Thursday Washington DC mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) unveiled a bill that would finally establish a regulated market for recreational cannabis in the district, which legalized adult use back in 2014.
DC residents have been able to possess, grow and consume cannabis since 2014, but Congress has blocked efforts to set up a regulated market for recreational cannabis. Congress has unprecedented control over how money is spent in the nation's capital, and federal lawmakers have used that leverage over the budget to prevent the district from spending money on licensing and regulating recreational cannabis businesses.
But that could changed with the upcoming 2020 budget, which contains a loophole that would allow DC to finally establish a regulated market for recreational marijuana.
In preparation for that potential change, Mayor Bowser has unveiled a new bill that would allow for the legal sale of cannabis in the city.
"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 ways that affect communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire DC residents," Bowser told The Washington Post.
If passed, Bowser's bill would place the minimum age for cannabis purchases at 21 and place a sales tax of 17 percent on all marijuana products. Consumption would be banned from public spaces but may be permitted at dispensaries. Bowser said provisions will also be put in place to prevent DC from becoming a "marijuana destination" and to crack down on the districts current gray market.
Still, there has been concern from some that even drafting the new bill is in violation of current federal law.
"Mayor Bowser should respect the Constitution, which gives Congress absolute authority over the District of Columbia, and discontinue her efforts to legalize marijuana in violation of the law," Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) said in a statement.
Despite this, Bowser seems determined to press on with legalization in DC. It is likely to take some time before her bill makes its way to its final vote, but this is an indication at least that things are finally starting to move forward again in DC.