By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]

The pot possession to prison pipeline has historically affected communities of color and become another factor in inequities faced, but now District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Boswer is emphasizing the need for marijuana legalization and law reform with her campaign #SafeCannabisDC.

“It’s time to legalize marijuana. For years, marijuana possession has been a pipeline to prison for people of color. We must replace that pipeline with jobs, equity, and pathways to prosperity,” the mayor wrote on Twitter while promoting a petition for the Safe Cannabis Sales Act.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is pushing for marijuana legalization. (Courtesy Photo)

The Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 builds on Initiative 71, which decriminalized marijuana usage in Washington, D.C., and institutes a legal sales and tax program in order to create a safer environment, while also offering clarity on cannabis usage and products.  In addition, the SAFE Cannabis Sales ACT was also introduced to promote and ensure justice and equity, so that the benefits of a legal sales and tax regime could go towards assisting and boosting, versus historically harming, vulnerable communities. The slogan for #SafeCannabisDC is “Safety, Equity, Clarity.”

With #SafeCannabisDC the sales and purchase of marijuana would be tracked and taxed, and comes with rules and limitations building on current cannabis laws.  

If passed, the Safe Cannabis Sales Act would offer more latitude in how residents can purchase marijuana- with restrictions of course.

  • Consumers must be at least 21 and have a government I.D. to enter and make purchases in cannabis establishments.
  • Consumers are limited to a daily purchase of no more than one once of cannabis flower per day, five grams of cannabis concentrate, 16 ounces of marijuana infused edibles or 72 ounces of liquid cannabinoid products.
  • Consumers cannot ingest marijuana in public places, including sidewalks, roadways, schools and parks.
  • Consumers will be able to purchase products online for delivery to a residential address.
  • Consumers are prohibited from smoking at any workplace
  • Consumers will be taxed 17 percent for cannabis at the point of sale.

Cannabis vendors would also have more opportunities, but with rules and regulations.

-For a six-month period, vendors who already have medical marijuana licenses will be first to receive applications for licenses for off-premise retailers and cultivators.

– Vendors will be offered five types of licenses, which will be valid for three years and renewable based on demand.  The license types include: cultivator, manufacturer, distributor, off-premise retailer and testing facility.

– 60 percent of ownership and 60 percent of employers must be D.C. residents.

– Vendors must solicit feedback from the public and ANC’s during the application process.

– A seed to sale tracking system will be created

– D.C.’s medical marijuana program will continue

– The Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) will regulate cannabis sales and be renamed the Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA).

This change comes on the heels of the District opening up medical marijuana dispensaries to patients who are from most states where it’s legal.

Last Thursday, Bowser announced that she is permitting more non-resident, medical-marijuana patients to use their cards for access to purchase and consume their medicine. This ruling allows the District to recognize the cards of residents from 27 states, which is an expansion from previously honoring patients from 19 states.  

Safety was at the forefront of this ruling as well.

“This emergency rulemaking is patient-centric,” said Mayor Bowser in a statement. “It ensures medical marijuana patients from other states can obtain their needed medicine. It will also promote public safety by allowing visitors to obtain their medicine at one of the District’s six – soon to be seven – authorized dispensaries rather than forcing them to go without or patronizing the illegal market.”

The new states recognized include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Vermont. Other states, including: Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and West Virginia, are under review.

Residents with medical cards from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington State are already recognized.