Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, February 22, 2019

Fridays with Mary J: The Wild West of marijuana?


It’s tough being a cannabis plant in the District of Columbia. The residents love you but Congress doesn’t. To explain the fiasco, Fridays with Mary J is back, the definitive weekly roundup on whether marijuana is legal yet in D.C. Here’s the latest on what happened in the District’s fight to legalize weed:

D.C. will need to wait longer than Thursday

Marijuana legalization seemed set to take effect Thursday, Feb. 26, according to city leaders, which would have been the 30th and final day of Congressional review on Initiative 71. However, it’s now clear Congress won’t hit their 30th day of review by Feb. 26. Here is a calendar of days Congress is in session. The next possible date for legalization remains uncertain.

D.C.’s Attorney General: “We don’t have clarity”

Speaking on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday, D.C.’s newly elected Attorney General Karl Racine advised Washingtonians to be aware of the limitations of marijuana legalization.

Racine: “I think the best advice is to be cautious and to be careful and be alert to the guidance that the police department put out, with respect to the real limitations on the law. We need to get to a place…where we’re able to regulate the use, purchase, and taxation of marijuana just like other states.”—Watch the full video.

The Wild West of marijuana

With marijuana legalization set to take effect on Thursday, according to city officials, the Washington Post predicts “chaos” since D.C. will not have a system to regulate the newly legal drug. Residents and visitors 21 years or older will be able to use and possess marijuana (except on federally owned land), but it is unclear how they will legally acquire it in the first place.

Aaron C. Davis writes: “Even some supporters of the initiative are worried. At best, they predict an uncertain ­free-for-all where marijuana enthusiasts immediately start growing and smoking at home — and testing the limits of a law that does not allow for public consumption or sale. At worst, they say, as entrepreneurs push ahead with the business of pot, unregulated businesses will start popping up with no means to judge the safety of their product.” —Read the full article.

Not so wild after all

A U.S. News and World Report article disagrees that marijuana legalization will plunge D.C. into chaos, noting that residents in Colorado and Washington went through a similar period of no legal sales.

“The situation is not entirely without precedent. Residents of Washington and Colorado went through a similar period – stretching more than a year in each state – between the legalization of possession for adults 21 and older and the opening of retail stores. Pot advocates in the Western states first to legalize say there’s nothing to worry about and that the existing marijuana black market may actually shrivel rather than boom.” —Read the full article.

D.C. Cannabis Campaign plans seed giveaway

Cuneyt Dil writes in District Wire: “Initiative 71 will legalize the the possession and free exchange of marijuana when it takes effect next Thursday, [since amended] but the sale of the drug will remain illegal. So the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will give out seeds to grow the plant for free.

Group chairman Adam Eidinger, an AU alumnus, who led the charge to draft the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, said the group will hold a free marijuana seed distribution event for the public sometime in March. The venue is currently undecided.” —Read the full article.

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