Washington, D.C. marijuana activists are proposing an amendment to a legalization bill that the District Council will consider on Friday that would allow small entrepreneurs to sell cannabis at farmers markets.
District of Columbia Marijuana Justice (DCMJ) announced on Wednesday that members would be presenting the amendment at the upcoming hearing, with the goal of creating a marijuana licensing category that would support craft cultivators and cottage industry entrepreneurs.
“Combining criminal justice reforms and economic innovation, the amendment would guarantee D.C. implements a profitable, equitable, affordable and transparent system of adult-use cannabis sales, testing and cultivation,” said Nikolas Schiller, author of the amendment and co-author of Initiative 71, a 2014 voter-approved measure that legalized marijuana possession in the District.
— DC Marijuana Justice💨🏛💨🏛 (@DCMJ2014) November 17, 2021
The proposed measure would create a “Cottage Industry License” that would “authorize the licensee to grow and produce medicinal and/or recreational marijuana within their residence for sale and delivery at wholesale directly to manufacturers, testing facilities, retailers and farmers markets,” the text of the amendment states.
Licensees could then apply for a “Farmers Market Endorsement” license that would enable them to “sell the cannabis at Farmers Markets in the District of Columbia.” Microbusiness licensees could also qualify for the endorsement.
People who own or work for companies that have cannabis dispensary licenses would not qualify for the farmers market permit. The fee for an endorsement would be $250 annually.
“The intent and spirit of Initiative-71, which D.C. voters approved seven years ago, was from the start to decriminalize the plant in D.C., end to the persecution of local cannabis users and establish a system of equitable, safe, affordable and all-inclusive cannabis commerce, from micro-sales to dispensaries,” DCMJ’s Adam Eidinger said in a press release.
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“We have an obligation to implement a system that does not shut out any cannabis entrepreneur, who wants to make an income, will abide by the regulations, and pay sales and taxes on profits,” he said. “In state after state, legislatures have left out many American entrepreneurs by allowing an exclusive ‘Big Pot’ oligopoly to dominate the local adult-use marketplace. We can break the cannabis oligopoly here in DC if we just legalize with the little guy in mind.”
Cottage industry licensees would also be allowed to use their homes as storefronts and do businesses as long as they don’t have more than four adult consumers in a given day. The amendment lays out penalties for violating that provision.
“This amendment represents the will of the D.C. cannabis community. It’s thoughtful with respect to the local diversity, comprehensive, and carefully worded,” Schiller said. “The message was clear that many D.C. residents want to be a part of the coming commercial cannabis marketplace, but they fear they will be unfairly excluded from ownership and partnership in a cannabis enterprise. The D.C. Council can break the cycle and become the model of success.”
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— DC Marijuana Justice💨🏛💨🏛 (@DCMJ2014) November 17, 2021
While marijuana has been legal for adults to use and possess in D.C. for seven years now, the District has been precluded from using local tax dollars to create a regulated market due to a congressional rider.
But the prospects of implementation legislation being enacted are much more likely now that both chambers of Congress have excluded that prohibitive language from appropriations legislation despite President Joe Biden’s proposal to continue the Republican-led ban.
The Committee of the Whole, the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety & the Committee on Business & Economic Development will hold a hearing on Friday to discuss one proposal from Chairman Phil Mendelson (D).
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in April that local officials are prepared to move forward with implementing a legal system of recreational marijuana sales in the nation’s capital just as soon as they can get over the final “hurdle” of congressional interference.
Bowser introduced a cannabis commerce bill in February, though her measure is not being considered at Friday’s hearing alongside the cannabis legalization proposal put forward by Mendelson.
Activists successfully pushed for a separate bill from the chairman in recent weeks, with the sponsor removing a provision of the legislation that could have led to a broad crackdown on the city’s unregulated market for recreational cannabis.
As previously drafted, the measure would have punished businesses that “gift” marijuana in a manner that effectively circumvents the local prohibition on retail cannabis sales.
Advocates argued that criminalizing those who are filling the regulatory gap would have ultimately perpetuated the same systemic inequities that voters and lawmakers have worked to resolve by ending prohibition.
Separately, another group of activists recently announced an effort to pressure local lawmakers enact broad drug decriminalization, with a focus on promoting harm reduction programs, in the nation’s capital. A poll released last week found that voters are strongly in favor of proposals.