UNITED STATES: Cannabis sales still blocked in Washington

Even though Washington D.C. voted in favor of the legalization of cannabis in 2014, Congress still refuses to let the capital create a regulated market.

Local lawmakers say they are looking for an alternative way to make the gray market legal.

Residents can possess, grow and donate a certain amount of cannabis, however they cannot sell nor buy it. This created a “gray market” where vendors sell other products and offer cannabis with each sale.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Washington D.C. City Council attempted many times to regulate the industry but were slowed down each time by the inaction of the congress. 

According to a report by Politico, Congress passed an amendment to pursue the prohibition of the development of a cannabis market. The bill was released on Wednesday and got included in the budget by President Joe Biden.

The CEO of the U.S Cannabis Council is disappointed with Congress. 

In a statement, the CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) Steven Hawkins said the organization was “deeply disappointed with Congress’ failure to act on cannabis reform in this year’s money 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 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 the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “We are very disappointed that Congress continues to prevent D.C. residents from regulating cannabis despite their repeated and urgent 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. »

More than 50 leading marijuana advocacy and civil rights organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders and appropriators at the beginning of March, asking that they finally allow recreational cannabis sales to begin in the District.

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