D.C. voters are likely to legalize marijuana possession in the District next month. But it could be many more months, perhaps a year or more, before residents would be able to legally purchase non-medicinal marijuana.
And in the interim, the organizers of the ballot initiative — which is supported by nearly two-thirds of likely voters, according to recent polls — are warning lawmakers not to delay its basic provisions of the voter initiative, which would allow the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the home cultivation of as many as six cannabis plants.
But D.C. Council members — who have the power to modify the initiative, delay it or overturn it entirely — appear determined to move forward carefully, in keeping with their previous efforts to implement a medical-marijuana initiative.
“I don’t want uncertainty to be out there in the streets and in the market, and the initiative as it is written doesn’t give us the certainty we need,” said David Grosso (I-At Large), who is perhaps the council’s most outspoken advocate of legalization. “It may be easier to just delay the whole thing while we come up with the regulatory framework.”
Grosso, who introduced a bill more than a year ago establishing a possible framework for the regulation and taxation of marijuana sales, said if the initiative passes, the council should step in and delay its effect until a regulatory regime can be rolled out.
That, he said, could be late summer, or even as late as October 2015, when the District’s new fiscal year begins.
Should the initiative succeed, it would be transmitted to Congress for a 30-legislative-day review period probably late next month or in early December, meaning its provisions could take effect as soon as late January. And even if the council moves to delay its effect, the vagaries of national politics have local leaders mindful that there is no reason to dawdle.
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