Voters in Washington D.C. may (likely) decide to legalize the possession of up to two ounces, the home cultivation of six plants, and retail sales of cannabis next month with Initiative 71. But if that happens, Washington D.C. council says don’t expect it to go into effect right away.
Council member David Grosso has been arguably the most pro-cannabis city leader, but he cautions that if the ballot initiative passes, council will take their time implementing things to make sure it is done right. Even if that is a year from now.
“I don’t want uncertainty to be out there in the streets and in the market, and the initiative as it is written doesn’t give us the certainty we need,” Grosso told the Washington Post. “It may be easier to just delay the whole thing while we come up with the regulatory framework.”
According to the Washington Post, that framework may resemble a similar recreationalal cannabis bill that Grosso pushed last year.
Grosso said that it could be October of 2015 before any regulations would be in place. Lawmakers say that issues like the tax rate, how those taxes will be used. Grosso’s plan would have taxed it at 15 percent on wholesales between growers and shops that sell it. Other lawmakers say they want to discuss funneling marijuana tax dollars into affordable housing initiatives as well as education.
Backers of Initiative 71 say that they would expect some time before the laws go into effect for recreational sales, but said that home cultivation and personal possession amounts should be respected immediately – as was the case in Colorado after Amendment 64 was officially signed into law by the governor.
“This won’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen overnight in Colorado,” Adam Eidinger, Initiative 71 backer, told the Post. “But what did happen is that they stopped arresting people, they let people grow their own and keep what they grew. There was no regulation in place other than that.”
Another huge wrench that could get thrown into the cogs is the U.S. Congress, which can always block the initiative from being finalized – though it has so far been unable to do much about the recent decriminalization of cannabis in Washington D.C.