Legislators in Washington, D.C. added momentum for more liberal marijuana laws Tuesday, moving the District closer to operating and regulating pot clubs around the city.
After unanimously opposing pot clubs less than a year ago, the Democratic-controlled City Council unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that will study how the city could implement licenses for businesses that wish to allow smoking.
A task force will be appointed by Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, who tried to permanently ban such clubs last year, and will have 120 days to review the matter. The current ban will stay in place for the rest of the year, reports The Washington Post. Michael Czin, communications director for Bowser, said that she is currently reviewing the Council’s action.
“The train is moving — it’s something that can’t be stopped,” Democratic Councilman Vincent Orange told The Washington Post. “The people went through a lawful procedure to get this approved so you have to give the people what they want.”
Last year the District passed a ballot measure legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in a private residence for personal consumption. A further relaxation of the law in public places was quickly stopped, however, by Bowser who moved for a permanent ban on public pot consumption, reports WJLA. (RELATED: DC Liberals Are At Each Other’s Throats Over Weed Ban)
Congress is the largest roadblock to further liberalization of D.C. marijuana laws, which banned the city from taxing or regulating pot through a budget measure passed last year. The D.C. Council will have to carefully maneuver around this, possibly managing the issue through regulating building codes and hours of operation, according to reports.
Council members fear that without taking action to try and control public marijuana consumption, drug use spiral out of control. District officials point out there has been a disregard for the law, illustrated by the increased smoking on city streets and sidewalks. There are also growing fears over second-hand smoke, reports The Washington Post.
“The irony is I don’t even smoke. For me, this is an autonomy issue,” said Democratic Council member Brianne K. Nadeau. “The argument from the mayor is we don’t want the wild, wild West. But in the absence of nothing, we need something.”
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