A provision of a Washington, D.C. marijuana bill that could have led to a broad crackdown on the city’s unregulated market for recreational cannabis was removed on Monday—one day before the District Council is scheduled to vote on the overall legislation it was attached to. Activists strongly criticized the proposed measure over a component that would have punished businesses that “gift” marijuana in a manner that effectively circumvents the local prohibition on retail cannabis sales. Marijuana possession and gifting is legal under a voter-approved 2014 initiative—but there currently isn’t a regulated market and people aren’t allowed to accept any form of remuneration for gifting. This could all change in the near future as lawmakers work to advance legislation to permit adult-use retailers once a current congressional blockade is removed. But for the time being, businesses have navigated in the murky legal territory to provide access to adult consumers. The cannabis bill set to be taken up by local legislators on Tuesday originally would have specifically cracked down on those businesses before the language was removed. D.C. Marijuana Justice (DCMJ) and other groups like We Act Radio have mounted rallies against the measure, including one event that took place on Monday just as it was reported that the language on gifting penalties was removed. Advocates argued that criminalizing those who are filling the regulatory gap would have ultimately perpetuated the same systemic inequities that voters and lawmakers have worked to resolve by ending prohibition.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 11/01/2021 15:17:00