The votes are in and it is official. Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, legalized marijuana early on Thursday. After a long battle between politicians and the public voters, voters won, regardless of threats from Congress that they will pull funding from the city and prosecute all officials involved in the helping of legalization in Washington D.C. Mayor Bowser made it clear that she would not be bullied, as she continued toward implementing the law.
News sources and media are calling the event the “green rush” on D.C., as officials from city finance have estimated the marijuana market in Washington D.C. to be well over $100 million. But the loophole in the legalization of marijuana in Washington D.C. is the fact that with the law enacted, pot can not be sold or bought. The new law, Initiative 71, allows everyone 21-years-of-age and older to possess up to two ounces, and also allows them to grow up to six of their own plants, with only three budding at one time. Legal age residents can smoke the marijuana and share the marijuana, but not buy it, sell it, smoke in public, drive under the influence, or smoke on federal land (such as the White House, national monuments, national parks, etc.).
This law in Washington D.C. is much different than the laws enacted in other states legalized. Colorado, Washington, and the newly added state of Alaska, do allow residents to buy and sell in specific shops. They do also enforce laws like no public smoking and no driving while under the influence, but they only allow their residents to carry up to an ounce of weed on them. In addition, residents in the other three states are not allowed to grow their own plants, as in Washington D.C.
According to sources, the state of Oregon will also be passing the law in July, after a vote taken there moved to make marijuana legal. Officials in other states are currently working on the decision of whether or not to allow legalization of the drug. It remains to be unseen, how many officials will give in to legalization, though the industry has apparently helped the economy in states that pass the legal marijuana laws.
It was, however, the battle between city officials of Washington D.C. and congress that made the legalization a coin toss. Congress threatened that the city officials of Washington D.C. would face time in jail if they discussed the plan while working. They also threatened to pull funding if city officials spent money enacting the legalization. This is why they could not legalize buying or selling. Setting up the pot initiative would have cost the city money, but they released the law allowing citizens to manage their own marijuana efforts, forcing a loophole around congress’ threats. Since they only set the law out, they did not spend any money enacting it.
This loophole may not hold forever, though, as city officials have stated that if congress broadens their efforts to stop the legalization of marijuana in Washington D.C., the law could easily be revoked. With congress being so persistent, in the past, about trying to keep marijuana from being legalized, especially in Washington D.C., it is most likely possible that the battle between city officials and federal officials is not over.
Residents are happy for now, as they have began their massive protests to fight for decriminalization of those who have been charged with marijuana crimes, in the past. They are hoping that with the legalization law in Washington D.C., the rest of the nation will also work toward making the drug legal. Washington D.C. is only the fourth place to make it legal (place because they are not a state), but with Alaska enacting the legalization of marijuana just a week ago, legalization in Washington D.C. may get the ball rolling. Other states will not have near the battle that Washington D.C. has, as D.C. hosts the federal government, is not a state, and is actually the main harbor for the war on drugs, according to sources.
Though, as the nation’s capital has, for now, legalized marijuana, the nation is sure to continue to see a struggle for Washington D.C. in the area of legalization. Residents can enjoy their freedom currently as the “green rush” begins. If Washington D.C. is able to keep it legalized, they may never see the benefits to the economy that other states have supposedly seen, if they do not enforce selling or buying. This move may also promote illegal acts, as the $130 million dollar market means that residents will not always be happy simply “sharing,” and may still find ways to buy and sell. With the legalization only being enacted for one day, so far, it is hard to see exactly what results will come of the law, initiative 71.
Brett Levin Creativecommons Flickr License