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D.C.: Council Reverses Opposition To Regulated Spaces To Consume Marijuana

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Council Creates Taskforce to Explore Creation of Designated Spaces for Marijuana Use

The Council of the District of Columbia on Tuesday voted to halt consideration of legislation that would permanently ban adult consumption of marijuana outside the home, and instead moved forward with the creation of a task force to explore the establishment of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana in the District.

"The will of District voters was upheld today by the Council, which voted unanimously to move forward on establishing regulated places where adults can consume marijuana," said Kaitlyn Boecker with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “One year ago this Council voted unanimously to ban such spaces, stripping residents of their rights under Initiative 71, but today Councilmembers righted that wrong and voted for reform,” said Boecker.

Initiative 71, which was overwhelmingly approved by District voters in 2014, legalized the possession of up to two ounces marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allowed individuals to grow up to six plants in their home. The implementation of Ballot Initiative 71 in the District has resulted in an unprecedented drop in arrests for possession of marijuana.

D.C. laws prevented the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, which requires action by the D.C. Council. However more than a year ago, Congress blocked D.C. lawmakers from using locally raised public funds to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

D.C.: Council Committee Permanently Bans Marijuana Consumption In Private Clubs

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The Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday voted to dilute the will of District voters who approved Ballot Initiative 71 by passing unnecessary legislation largely outlawing adult marijuana use in the District.

The passage of the controversial measure occurred under usual circumstances. Almost no notice of the markup of the controversial bill was provided. Notice was not provided to the public until only a few minutes before markup, and even Committee members received less than 24 hours’ notice of bill consideration, in violation of the Committee’s own rules.

In a very rare move, remarked upon by other councilmembers, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson joined the committee for the markup and provided the swing vote to advance the bill.

The bill approved by the Committee would make permanent the current blanket ban on marijuana use in private clubs, which is set to expire on April 15. The bill bars entities from providing adults with private spaces other than a residence to consume marijuana, and requires the Mayor’s office to revoke a business’ license after only one instance of a patron consuming marijuana on the premises.

As written the legislation is needlessly broad and expands the criminalization of marijuana consumption by adults, contrary to the will of District voters who resoundingly rejected marijuana criminalization.

D.C. Council Holds Hearing On Marijuana Legalization, Taxation and Regulation

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Policy Experts and Advocates Testify in Favor of Directing Proceeds from Taxation to Communities Harmed by War on Drugs

Hearing Occurs As Initiative 71 Undergoes 30-Day Congressional Review

D.C. Councilmembers on Monday held a joint public hearing on legislation introduced earlier this year that would establish a system that legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana in the nation’s capital.

The “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2015”, B21-023, would establish a regulatory infrastructure for the production and sale of marijuana to adults 21 years of age and older in D.C. It would also create a dedicated fund for excise and sales tax revenue, and beginning in FY2017, the first $350,000 collected every three months would be directed to the D.C. Youth Court.

The next $500,000 collected every three months would be used for drug and alcohol prevention and treatment, and any remaining revenue would go to the general fund. Licensing fees and other non-tax revenues would be retained by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to cover the costs of administering the regulatory system.

The hearing took place in Room 500 of the D.C. Council Chambers at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Advocates provided testimony in support of using the proceeds from legalization toward rebuilding the communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

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