Cannabis lovers in Washington, D.C. might finally be able to make retail purchases soon, according to a statement from Mayor Muriel Bowser after she was re-elected on Tuesday. D.C. passed adult-use legalization back in 2014 with a 65 percent majority vote, but implementation of a tax-and-regulate retail sales environment in the nation’s capital has been stalled.
“We will prepare a tax-and-regulate scheme to present to the council at the beginning of the next year. We have an untenable situation in the District. As long as we have the ability to possess marijuana, which is our law, we also need the ability to procure marijuana legally, which we don’t have now,” Mayor Bowser said at a city hall press conference.
Both customers who would like to purchase legal marijuana and shops that would sell products have been frustrated in the four years since the adult-use law passed. It’s natural to wonder why Mayor Bowser’s cabinet didn’t start preparing their plan back in 2014. Lawmakers and residents in D.C. speculate that Republican Representative Andy Harris says one thing and does another when it comes to federal cannabis research. Harris says doctors shouldn’t yet prescribe cannabis to patients in one statement, and calls for more research on the plant medicine in another.
While a tax-and-regulate scheme might sound like a good plan to most voters in D.C., they might be surprised to learn about statistics that indicate ‘illicit’ markets in other states are not fading away anytime soon. One of the main selling points of legal cannabis at the political level is that it can reduce arrests and free up valuable police resources. But even when tax-and-regulate plans are agreed on and implemented, issues for law enforcement still arise.
Bowser is the first mayor to win reelection in the District of Columbia in over a decade, but some political analysts suggest she didn’t have much competition. Finally implementing a plan to tax and regulate cannabis would follow through on a campaign promise that D.C.’s voter base clearly wants. Time will tell what type of plan Mayor Bowser and her cabinet will come up with, and hopefully D.C. can avoid some of the challenging issues that legal states face.