In an odd but not unprecedented move, the Washington DC city council will hold an extra legislative meeting on Tuesday April 19th at 11:00AM EST to discuss bill 21-0107, which could permanently ban any social use of marijuana in the District. News of the draft agenda was disseminated to the public through the efforts of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) who tell me they received the information from legislative aides.
“Time and time again it falls on advocates to get the word out,” says Kaitlyn Boecker of DPA when contacted to confirm rumors of the unpublished meeting.
The DPA wasn’t surprised but they are outraged that a vote at in the morning could render that evening’s town hall on the very same issue pointless.
“We believe passing a permanent ban completely invalidates the task force’s work and makes Councilmember Nadeau’s incredible valuable, and needed, town hall on social consumption fruitless. We struggle to understand the Chairman’s perspective that passing a permanent ban on social consumption venues does not invalidate the task force,” DPA said in a statement obtained by The Marijuana Times.
The evening town hall is being held by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Marijuana Private Club Task Force at 6:00PM EST. The special task force was created in response to the hullabaloo over interpretations of social use under Initiative 71, the legislation legalizing marijuana in the District.
Craig G., a medical marijuana patient and DC resident posted a summary of what he wants to tell the council on Facebook, if given the chance: “I will also say that cannabis has enabled me to heal and get out more, and it has given me a new social life, and I want to have cannabis cafes away from alcohol and cigarettes, and be able to go out. Although of course I do support bars having social use too…”
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The task force is charged with making recommendations for what the licensing and business operations would look like in accordance with DC law. “The recommendations will include effective ways to regulate those venues to ensure the health and safety of staff, members and invitees and the health and safety of the nearby public and general public,” task force Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) wrote in a statement.
Kate Bell of the Marijuana Policy Project is using this opportunity to rally support to overturn the social use ban. Bell is asking citizens to write to council members to change their vote on the ban — if the Council doesn’t pass the permanent ban earlier in the day.
This question of what defines social use and where one would use marijuana socially is important for local governments to figure out as rumors continue to swirl that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will make an announcement regarding rescheduling cannabis.
The town hall meeting is next week, April 19th at 6:00PM in the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW room 412, Washington, D.C. and testimony will be capped at three minutes per person.
People who wish to testify can call Councilmember Nadeu’s office (202)-724-8835 to sign up or there will be a registration table at the building on the day of the town hall. If you cannot be there in-person, you have the option to email your testimony to DBURS@DCcouncil.us.
All this is happening just four days prior to the first National Cannabis Festival in Washington, DC.