Earlier this morning, rumors starting flying that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were negotiating a deal with House Republicans that would protect DCs marijuana decriminalization law in exchange for blocking Initiative 71 for taking effect.
But now, multiple outlets are reporting that a new deal has been reached between Democrats and Republicans that, in fact, would allow the legalization of marijuana as its written in Initiative 71 (possession of up to two ounces of pot, home cultivation of up to three mature plants), but instead block the District from passing any additional legislation to tax and regulate the sale of legal marijuana.
Thats of course referencing a bill introduced by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) last fall, which has since become a priority of the DC Council ever since Initiative 71 was overwhelmingly passed in November. The day after she won the election, mayor-elect Muriel Bowser said that, while she supports Initiative 71, she had reservations about legalizing marijuana without a proper taxation and regulation system in place.
Under Grossos bill, the District would introduce a taxation and regulation system of legalized marijuana so that grow centers could grow pot that the city can tax and use the money for things like proper drug education.
But if the rumors are true, then the likelihood of that bill passing anytime soon is very unlikely. From Roll Call:
A source close to the negotiations said the deal reached by Democrats and Republicans does not prevent DC from implementing legalization. Instead, language in the amendment prohibits the District from passing additional legislation to future regulate and tax marijuana or permit the sale of marijuana.
Around the country were seeing the tide turning, Grosso told DCist over the phone, and I think the residents of the District of Columbia need to stand up and say no and let them know were not going to take this.
When DC residents voted to legalize medical marijuana, Congress held up that law from taking effect for more than a decade and Grosso fears that theyll use similar measures to prevent his taxation and regulation bill from taking effect, if it passes through the DC Council.
But while many Democratic leaders have said they support marijuana legalization or, at least, the will of the DC voters, Grosso isnt confident theyll come through. The Democratic party is willing, when they have a little bit of power, to shell the District down the river, he said. I dont know what its going to take to get some respect from Congress or from the Democratic party. The District of Columbia needs be taken more seriously.