DC Mayor Says District Is Ready for Regulated Cannabis Market

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week the city is ready to legalize adult-use cannabis sales as soon as the Congressional rider blocking the reforms is gone.

Full story after the jump.

Washington DC’s mayor and District Council have proposed a pair of competing measures to create regulations for an adult-use cannabis marketplace in the nation’s Capital, Marijuana Moment reports.

Until now, progress on the issue has been delayed by a Congressional budget rider blocking the District from creating a regulated cannabis marketplace. Known as the “Harris rider” — named for sponsor Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) — its language specifically prohibits DC from using tax dollars to implement adult-use cannabis sales, which voters approved in 2014. The Harris rider, however, appears to be in jeopardy after Harris failed to introduce the measure in 2020 (although the rider made it into that year’s Appropriations bill via the Senate, which was ultimately signed by former President Trump). Now, cannabis advocates are hopeful that with Democrats back in control of the White House and both branches of Congress, and in light of a recent decision to let DC begin planning for the arrival of an adult-use system, the District might soon be moving forward.

“I think we’re ready from our end. We have a tax-and-regulates scheme. We’ve prepared our alcohol and beverage office to be prepared to implement regulation. And we have to get the hurdle of Congress out of the way.” — Mayor Muriel Bowser, in an interview with WAMU’s Politics Hour

Two separate bills have been proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, according to the report.

Although the bills have the same objectives, they take different approaches to taxation and social equity: the Mayor’s proposal would place a 17 percent tax on cannabis, while Mendelson’s plan carries a slightly lower rate of 13 percent. Both bills prioritize the licensing of people convicted of cannabis crimes or who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and both bills favor long-time DC residents. The Mayor’s proposal takes a more nuanced approach to expungement and includes an exemption for those convicted of crimes involving guns or other illegal drugs.

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