Can DC Legalize Recreational Cannabis During Government Shutdown?
By Dalton Rosario
Washington D.C. has been barred for years by a rider blocking the city from allotting its own tax dollars towards regulating recreational cannabis for adults. Current legislation permits personal cannabis to be cultivated at home in an amount of up to 6 plants. As well, possession of up to 2 ounces by residents aged 21 or over is lawful. In addition, up to an ounce of cannabis can be “gifted” or transferred from one person to another as long as both parties are at least 21 years or older. However, no money, goods or services can be exchanged in return, and cannabis cannot be consumed on public property. Even though these laws have been enforced for half a decade, still to this day residents cannot legally purchase recreational cannabis in retail dispensaries.
This is largely due to a series of Republican-dominated Congresses extending federal legislation blocking D.C. from spending its own tax dollars to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, but with the pending partial government shut down, this very legislation is temporarily expired and can be worked around by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). To do so she would have to immediately pass legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis sales, or risk waiting until the next fiscal year starting in October. As outlined in a public appearance made by Bowser two months prior, “We have an untenable situation in the District that I believe makes us unsafe… As long as we have the ability to possess marijuana, which is our law, we also need the ability to procure marijuana legally, which we don’t have now.” She sheds light upon a logical fallacy as the law stands, and derives a reasonable conclusion given the legality of cannabis possession throughout the district. With this in mind, the question remains if it is too bold a maneuver to undermine federal law by passing recreational legalization at such a time as this; despite being exactly what the green wave needs to end the war against cannabis in our Nation's Capital.