Councilmember Grosso recorded a quick video update on his decision to oppose the “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016”--you can read more about his position after the jump.
This legislation amends the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 to clarify that the prohibition of consumption of marijuana in a public space also includes private clubs. It also requires the Mayor to revoke any license, certificate of occupancy, or permit held by an entity that knowingly permits a violation of law concerning the consumption of marijuana in a public space.
I have been a strong proponent of marijuana decriminalization, legalization and regulation in D.C. since I became a member of the Council in 2013. I co-introduced the decriminalization law and actively supported the passage of Initiative 71. But I also introduced measures in 2013 and 2015 to tax and regulate the sale of retail marijuana in D.C. as I strongly believe that it is important for us to setup an equitable system governed by clear rules and regulations if we are truly to limit arrests and dissolve the underground market. As you may know, D.C. is currently under a congressional rider which prohibits the Council and Mayor on moving forward on any measures to tax and/or regulate the legal sale of retail marijuana. I strongly oppose Congressional leadership interfering with D.C.’s ability to govern itself and believe that at times it’s appropriate for us to defy Congress and do what’s right for D.C. residents.
I opposed this legislation because I believe it was a step toward doing just that. My interest in marijuana decriminalization and legalization laws has always been about social justice and ending the arrests and racial disparity in terms of enforcement. In the absences of available venues outside of a private residence for individuals to consume marijuana products legally, the disparity will continue. Further, this matter is currently being debated in the Committee on Judiciary via permanent legislation and I believe the Council should have the opportunity to fully debate before extending this emergency. I believed that my colleagues and I could work together with the Executive to craft an approach to this issue that is measured. Unfortunately, the bill passed today by a vote of 9-4.
I will continue to work on this issue as the full Council prepares to consider this measure at the February 2, 2016 Legislative Meeting. Thank you again for reaching out with your concerns.