Residents of the nation’s capital can legally own up to 2 ounces of cannabis (that’s A LOT, if you’re wondering). But they can’t legally buy it, nor can they sell it. D.C. is stuck in the middle place between Prohibition and legality, a place that mature cannabis markets like Colorado and California outgrew years ago. But it’s a step in that direction, and lawmakers can’t help but realize it. Washington D.C. residents are, by and large, very enthusiastic about the end of cannabis prohibition in their district. There are already a lot of cannabis conferences and “cannabusiness” opportunities, but there is no weed in sight. If it can be assumed that the recent possession ruling is the beginning of a kind of tipping point, here are some issues that D.C. legislators are going to have to suss out.
- Where Can It Be Sold, and When? In Colorado, for instance, there is a state law that says cannabis may be sold until midnight. But this is regularly how things play in individual communities. Specific towns and cities get to decide when cannabis may be sold, with very few allowing legitimate businesses to be open until midnight. 9 or 10 PM is more common. There is also the issue of location and private ownership. In California, dispensaries are the only legal place to sell, each with at least the aura of medical establishment. The same cannot be said for many Colorado joints, in which the stoner vibe is very much in place. Many D.C. lawmakers have gone on the record saying they want to make cannabis much like alcohol in its regulation. If that plays out, cannabis would only be sold in government regulated businesses, though these could be privately owned. Think the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Stores you’ll see in many states.
- Where Can it Be Smoked? Even though Colorado has the most permissive cannabis laws in the United States, in many ways, you still can’t smoke it just anywhere. Smokers must restrict their practice to their own homes, or to private institutions like “smoker’s clubs”. In practice, many smokers are simply discreet with public smoking, but police have cracked down in some areas, other areas effecting a sort of respectful “gentlemen’s agreement” with local cannabis enthusiasts, similar in some ways to the brown bag laws you’ll see in effect in some states.
- Where Can it Be Taken? This is possibly Colorado’s most strict law. You simply can’t take the drug out of state. Many people try, and the police catch some of them. For these individuals, punishments can be strict. Sources like Leafbuyer make it easy to find the best deals in marijuana goods, but you can’t always take your booty anywhere you want it. This is very important for D.C. lawmakers, who definitely do not want the capital city seen as a major cannabis exporter.
There are many other considerations these lawmakers will be making. They’ll surely be looking at the way California and Colorado have taken their cannabis law. As more US states make the drug legal, they will be taking cues from the capital city, making sensible and decisive cannabis decisions very important for their legislators.