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12/03/2021 05:01:48 pm

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Legal Pot Possession Takes Effect In Washington D.C.

 Deb Greene of Seattle, the first customer at Cannabis City, holds up her purchase signed by owner James Lathrop during the first day of legal retail marijuana sales in Seattle, Washington July 8, 2014.

(Photo : REUTERS/Jason Redmond)
Deb Greene of Seattle, the first customer at Cannabis City, holds up her purchase signed by owner James Lathrop during the first day of legal retail marijuana sales in Seattle, Washington July 8, 2014.

Legal possession of marijuana takes effect in Washington D.C. on Thursday, February 26th, despite strong opposition from House Republicans.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced on Wednesday the legalization of marijuana will push through, defying Republican lawmakers' threats of an arrest for proceeding with the unlawful measure.

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"We believe that we're acting lawfully," Bowser said.  "I have a lot of things to do in the District of Columbia. Me being in jail wouldn't be a good thing," she added.

Bowser argued voters in the District of Columbia had overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71 in November last year, which makes marijuana legal for recreational use.  She said D.C. is prepared to implement the measure. 

Under Initiative 71, adults at least 21 years old are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces or 56 grams of marijuana. 

Sales are prohibited but sharing of up to an ounce is legal provided that person is at least 21 years old.

Planting of up to six marijuana plants at home is also allowed, but there should be no more than three mature plants.

Paraphernalia, such as bongs and pipes are also legal, but smoking in public is not allowed. 

Since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it will also be illegal in about 20 percent of the district which is owned by the federal government.

But the House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah pointed out, the legalization was unlawful citing a spending ban passed in December, that barred District of Columbia from spending government funds to make pot legal.

But D.C. officials assert Initiative 71 was officially certified ahead of the spending ban, paving the way for its implementation as originally scheduled.  They say there is no choice.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen is confident the move was above-board and  backed by a solid legal ground. 

"This has nothing to do with marijuana. This is about the autonomy of the District and the will of the District voters. Quite frankly, I think it's a perversion of democracy, what they are trying to do," Allen said.

Council member Vincent Orange meanwhile said it is proper to proceed with the legalization and let the courts decide should Congress would want to push it that far. 

"This is not the time to blink. We are on sound legal footing and should go forward with legalization and let the courts decide," Orange said. 

None of the key Republicans have categorically said that a lawsuit was on the table. 

But a spokeswoman for Chaffetz said, "Consequences do come with violating federal law."

A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013.  

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