The politics surrounding cannabis in the United States has always been a tricky subject to take on. When Will State Licensed Stores Open in DC?Beginning with the ”war on drugs” initiated by President Nixon in the sixties, the cannabis plant has been culturally painted on a canvas of stereotypes, hyperbole and even a dab (no pun intended) of racism. In the country today, new scientific research has consistently brought forth the truth behind the benefits and safety of cannabis to the public. More and more advocates are also fighting to make changes in their local governments. Even at the epicenter of the U.S. government, Weed Washington DC has made significant progress in cannabis decriminalization and acceptance. When Will State Licensed Stores Open in DC?
Medical marijuana in Washington DC was officially approved in 1998 but as a result of Congress passing the Barr amendment, preventing DC lawmakers from spending any money establishing the program. Over a decade later, this amendment was overturned in 2009, and the hesitation shown in establishing regulations over the years had diminished. Finally, dispensaries in the district were established, and the first medical purchase was made in 2013. Moving forward, lawmakers have increasingly noticed the support and desire to legalize cannabis recreationally as well. Like most government-run establishments, the road to legalization has been a slow, steady one.
The first step towards fully legalized marijuana for adult use began with decriminalization. Representatives began to take notice of the harsh punishments and fines related to minuscule amounts of cannabis (or even paraphernalia) and the cultural biases that occurred with these sentences towards particular racial and economic groups. To alleviate these decades-old issues, small amounts of cannabis and paraphernalia essentially indicating personal use was decriminalized one year after the medical marijuana program was established.
The largest step towards recreational use began shortly after decriminalization laws were enacted. In year 2015, the establishment of Initiative 71 allowed both visiting and residential adults over the age of 21 to gift small amounts of cannabis to one another, allowed for residents to grow six of their own cannabis plants at home (consisting of three adult plants and three seedlings), and allowed for paraphernalia to be used without fear of fines, jail time, or any other type of persecution. Unfortunately, I71 still prohibited the sale of cannabis. As a result, many DC inhabitants chose to utilize the gifting loophole to establish events, vendors, and delivery services where customers could purchase miscellaneous items to receive their choice of a cannabis gift.
The final official step towards cannabis legalization in DC is establishing recreational storefronts. Most recently, the Safe Cannabis Sales Act was proposed by a recent mayor of Washington DC in 2019. This act would further legalize recreational sales and finally establish brick and mortar stores while retaining the safety of the rest of DC’s community. For now, the dates of when or if this act will pass is uncertain, but overall the introduction of the act itself promotes the idea that it’s possible to establish laws like this one, and with more states approving cannabis, the future looks hopeful!