DC lawmakers propose how to handle marijuana sale, distribution

D.C. lawmakers are ready to decide how the District will move forward with growing, selling and distributing marijuana legally. The mayor and the council chair have both introduced bills that would lay out a green path.

Council Chair Phil Mendelson and his colleagues have worked for a year on legislation that is now being introduced to regulate legal marijuana in the District.

“So there’s a regulatory scheme to licensed cultivation, production and retail sale of cannabis in the District. It will be regulated through the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which will be renamed the Alcoholic Beverage Cannabis Administration,” Mendelson said.

Mendelson’s bill, which he said has the support of the council, would pull a 13% tax from the retail sale of cannabis. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has proposed another cannabis regulation bill to the council, is calling for a 17% tax.

“There’s a rider that Congress has put on appropriations bills the last maybe half-dozen years, that’s prevented us from taking this step. That rider’s still in place, but we are optimistic that it will be lifted this year,” Mendelson said of the timing.

Mendelson’s Comprehensive Cannabis Legislation and Regulation Act is coupled with a social equity program that offers opportunities for residents impacted by drugs.

“For example, setting aside at least half of the licenses for residents who have been previously convicted of cannabis-related offenses, or have lived five of the last 10 years in areas with high rates of poverty, unemployment and cannabis-related arrests,” he said.

Thirty percent of the tax revenues generated by Mendelson’s bill will go to provide loans and grants to the applicants.

“Fifty percent of the tax revenues from the sale of cannabis would be deposited into a community reinvestment program fund, which would be used to provide grants to organizations addressing issues such as economic development, homeless prevention, support for returning citizens and civil legal aid in areas with high poverty, high unemployment and violence,” he said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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