An Update On Washington D.C.’s Legalization Policies

Capitol Building U.S. CongressLast February, Washington D.C. became the first government on the East Coast to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Only Colorado and Washington had legalized marijuana beforehand, and Alaska had legalized marijuana that same day.

As legalization has swept the country, more and more governments have turned to marijuana as an additional source of revenue; however, the federal government has stood in the way of some state and local governments’ attempts to regulate marijuana.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than it is in Washington D.C.  A year after the residents of Washington D.C. voted on legalizing marijuana, the federal government has still not recognized D.C.’s autonomy.

Currently, Washington D.C. residents can possess marijuana, but they may not sell or purchase the product. This allows people to grow marijuana in their own homes. The people of D.C., however, wish to see marijuana regulated, as it is in Colorado.

The residents of D.C. still must resort to acquiring marijuana on the black market, which is illegal and dangerous. Part of the problem with black market drug distribution is the violence associated with the black market. The people of D.C. spoke, and the government continues to ignore the people’s will.

Not all is doom and gloom in D.C., however. Crime has been reduced drastically since marijuana became legal last February. Steve Birr states, “Possession arrests decreased 98 percent in 2015 from the previous year and overall arrests on any marijuana-related charges are down 85 percent” (1). That is a tremendous reduction of crime. The people of Washington D.C. feel safer now than they did before.

Marijuana arrests have a racial element to them in D.C. and many other places. In fact, Steve Birr informs readers, “The battle in D.C. over legalization also incorporates a racial element, as marijuana bans tend to disproportionately affect black and other minority communities.

Despite comparable usage statistics across races, black people accounted for 91 percent of marijuana possession arrests in 2013, reports The Washington Post” (1). That statistic shows the reality of our country’s drug policies.  Many times, minorities feel as if our drug policies are an excuse to imprison them. They are completely justified in these feelings.

As more states legalize marijuana, D.C.’s marijuana laws will become clearer. Soon, D.C. will be able to regulate its marijuana industry. Moreover, the residents of D.C. and many other places will see that their voices matter in the political process.

Birr, Steve. DC’s Legalized Weed Is One-Year-Old, And Crime Has Cratered. The Daily Caller News Foundation. The Daily Caller News Foundation. 27 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.

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