VICE NEWS: Marijuana Is About to Be Legal — and Virtually Unregulated — in Washington, DC

Fields, Liz. “Marijuana Is About to Be Legal – and Virtually Unregulated – in Washington, DC” | VICE News.” VICE News RSS. VICE Media, 25 Feb. 2015.

“Pot smokers in Washington, DC, are about to face a dizzying predicament. Come Thursday, residents of the US capital will be able to legally possess two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. They can also trade or gift up to an ounce in pre-rolled joints, blunts, and the like. But they won’t be able to buy any of that weed legally.

The unusual situation is the result of political maneuvering by Congress to block Initiative 71, a ballot initiative to make marijuana possession legal for adults 21 and over that was approved in the November 2014 midterm election by 70 percent of DC voters.

A month after the initiative was approved, Congress, which controls DC’s budget, intervened by adding a “rider” to a massive federal spending bill. This small additional clause, that is seemingly unrelated to the rest of the spending bill, tried to prevent local officials from using federal funds to implement the initiative. Paradoxically, the same legislation also contained another amendment to stop the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana industries.

Thanks to Congress, entrepreneurs that hoped to take advantage of marijuana legalization in DC — the fourth part of the US to legalize the drug after Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska — might have to shelve their business plans, at least for a little while.

For the past 30 days, DC’s legalization plan has been undergoing a congressional review, which concludes Thursday. The end result will likely be that pot becomes legal but virtually unregulated in DC, meaning people will be trading — or “gifting” — their weed in a hazy zone of legal uncertainty.

Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization working to end pot prohibition, told VICE News that the policy gap between legalization and regulation is a misguided attempt by Congress to score political brownie points with their voters at the expense of states’ rights.

“We see this all the time — Congress using DC as a bully pulpit to enforce rules to gain political points with their constituents,” Fox said. “But in this case, DC voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization…”  [RESTOFSTORY]

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