Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2019
Introduced: January 8, 2019
Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, and Brianne K. 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 2019, along with Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, and Brianne Nadeau.
When I introduced the first version of this bill in September 2013 no one was willing to co-introduce or co-sponsor it.
At that time it was unclear whether or not decriminalization of marijuana would pass the Council.
But the number of arrests and the racial disparities were simply too compelling for us not to act.
In the years since, thankfully, this Council did pass decriminalization and 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 has been racist in its implementation, so we 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 regulatory system.
The legislation I’m introducing today does that, and it includes important provisions to help repair the harm of the War on Drugs, including business incubation and technical assistance to ensure those formerly targeted by criminalization can benefit from the legalization of marijuana.
The bill also 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.
This status quo has led to an confusing and problematic state of affairs with residents and businesses unclear on what is legal, what is not, and wondering how it can be that it is legal to possess marijuana but not to buy or sell it. We need to fix this.
With change in control of the House of Representatives, there is now hope that the rider will be removed.
It has been my stance that we should deliberate and vote on this bill regardless of the rider and invite the federal government to arrest us for doing our jobs.
But I know not everyone has the appetite for that, so hopefully with the rider gone, we can move forward with this legislation.
In any case, we should push back every time that Congress singles us out and demand that they let us, elected by the residents of the District of Columbia, decide on local issues.
This Council should be unapologetic in pursuing what is best for our constituents and we must stand up to the meddlers in Congress and the White House.
Thank you and I welcome co-sponsors.