While Washington DC voted overwhelmingly to legalize cannabis in 2014, Congress still refuses to let the nation’s capital create a regulated market. As it stands, residents can possess, grow and donate various amounts of cannabis, but not sell or buy it, which has given way to a “gray market” where vendors sell other products and offer cannabis with each sale.
Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Washington DC City Council attempted to regulate the industry but were stymied each time by congressional inaction. Local lawmakers say they are looking for an alternative to making the gray market legal.
According to a report by Politico, Congress just passed an amendment in its “spending package” to continue prohibiting the development of a cannabis market. The surprise addition of the text was only discovered when the bill was released on Wednesday and had been absent from previous budget proposals. It was eventually included in the budget by President Joe Biden.
In a statement, the CEO of theUS Cannabis Council (USCC), Steven Hawkins, said the organization was “deeply disappointed with Congress’ failure to act on cannabis reform in this year’s budget bill.”
“Congress was poised to make real progress, including removing barriers put in place by Rep. Andy Harris that prevent the District of Columbia from implementing regulated cannabis sales after a successful legalization referendum. This has created a harmful underground market that operates without any standards or guarantees and is at odds with the will of local voters,” explained Steven Hawkins in a press release.
Toi Hutchinson, President and CEO of Marijuana Policy Project, said, “We are very disappointed that Congress continues to prevent DC residents from regulating cannabis despite their urgent and repeated calls for reform. Instead, Congress requires the District to maintain a gray market in which cannabis can be legally possessed and consumed by adults, but cannot be legally sold, regulated, or tested. This puts consumers at risk, and entrepreneurs who live in this majority minority community are denied the ability to open businesses that are available in all other jurisdictions where cannabis is legal. »
The “spending package” could also have granted adult markets the same legal protections that surround medical cannabis programs in states that have approved the reforms. However, they were deleted in the Senate version of the bill.