Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmember Robert White, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau

Summary: To legalize the possession, consumption, display, purchasing, or transporting of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use, not in public, for persons over the age of 21;  to establish that possession, consumption, display, purchasing, or transporting of marijuana and marijuana-infused products shall not constitute a civil or criminal offense under District law or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under District laws, for persons under the age of 21; to amend the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981 to decriminalize certain amounts of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use; to amend the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to strike certain paraphernalia related to marijuana use from the provision; to amend Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code to establish the licensing and regulation infrastructure for the production, sale, consumption, and testing of retail marijuana and retail marijuana-infused products in the District of Columbia; to establish a dedicated marijuana fund, which shall consist of all sales tax and excise tax revenue from retail marijuana; to direct all retail marijuana license fees, penalties, forfeitures, and all other monies, income, or revenue received by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration from retail marijuana-related activities; to establish a tax on the gross receipts of retail marijuana sales and on the first sale or transfer of unprocessed retail marijuana in the District of Columbia; to clarify the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010 maintaining each regulation, standard, rule, notice, order and guidance promulgated or issued by the Mayor, except where inconsistent with this act, and the rights of any person holding a license pursuant to that legislation; and to amend Title 18 of D.C. Municipal Regulation to adjust allowances of THC concentration while operating a motor vehicle.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today I am also introducing the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Robert White.

When I introduced the first version of this bill in September 2013 none of my colleagues were willing to be co-introducers or co-sponsors.

At the time it was unclear whether or not decriminalization of marijuana would pass. 

But the numbers and the racial disparities were simply too compelling for us not to act. 

In the years since, I am proud that this Council did pass decriminalization and that voters approved Initiative 71 with almost 70% of the vote.

In that time we have seen marijuana-related arrests plummet, representing thousands of District residents who were spared that needless involvement in the judicial system.

Based off the data from before and after these policy changes, we know that the War on Drugs was a failure—it was increasing our mass incarceration problem, and not helping with our drug dependency problem.

The data also has consistently shown that the War on Drugs is racist in its implementation, so we also understand that changing these policies is a racial justice issue.

The logical next step, to continue to reduce arrests and to bring marijuana totally out of the shadows is to set up a strong tax and regulate system.

The legislation I’m introducing today would do just that, and it incorporates lessons from other jurisdictions that have moved forward with the regulation of recreational marijuana over the past few years.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, the list goes on--all these states have legal sales of marijuana, but we in D.C. do not, because in late 2014 Congress prohibited us from spending any of our local tax dollars to set up such a taxation and regulation system.

So this is a home rule question as well as a question of human rights, racial justice, and wise use of criminal justice resources.

The Harris Rider is a reminder of our second-class status—Congress cannot prohibit any of the fifty states from legalizing marijuana as they see fit, but Representative Harris and the leadership on the Hill has no problem undermining the work of this Council.