Washington D.C. marijuana legalization limited to private use

Caitlin Trude  |  Editor-In-Chief

Not long after Washington, D.C.’s legalization of marijuana Tuesday, Feb. 24, the City Council made a unanimous vote on limitations pertaining to the plant’s use.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, an advocate for Initiative 71, approved the added voter-approved measure to ban the use of buying, selling or smoking marijuana in public places, which was passed into law last Thursday. Under this measure, initially hopeful self-proclaimed marijuana entrepreneurs may have to seek alternatives to plans to coordinate events where clients might purchase the drug and invite others to participate in recreational marijuana usage.

Adam Eidinger, another Initiative 71 proponent, expressed his discontent with the “emergency  measure,” comparing the public consumption of alcohol in places such as bars and restaurants with the proposition to make marijuana use legal in public as well. As it stands now, smoking marijuana will only be legal in one’s own home or in private clubs and bars.

Eidinger believes the new measure will only encourage Washington, D.C., residents to bend the law.

“All they (proponents of the new measure) did is just encourage more underground activity,” he said.

However, David Grosso, another Initiative 71 proponent, suggested that the new measure will ultimately prove beneficial for residents.

“I believe if we don’t pass this emergency [measure], there will be unintended consequences  in neighborhoods throughout the city,” Grosso said. “When I got involved in this, I wanted to see fewer and fewer District of Columbia residents going to jail, and not necessarily to see more and more District of Columbia residents being able to consume marijuana.”

According to the Washington Times, legalization activists have discussed the possibility of publicly protesting against Initiative 71’s measure addition, efforts which have been strongly discouraged by D.C. Council member Vincent Orange.

“I would hope that they would not engage in public defiance in having public smokeouts at this point in time,” Orange said. “This is a very delicate line, and we are still interacting with Congress and others.”

In the meantime, Congress has prevented Washington, D.C., from finalizing regulation or sales tax laws when it comes to marijuana distribution.

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