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Last Word: Washington, D.C. and the Cannabis Industry’s Alice in Wonderland Scenario

It’s hard to do a better job capturing just how totally screwed up the federal government’s marijuana policy is today than this recent story in The Washington Post titled Marijuana Law Creates Confusion But Finds Growing Acceptance in District.

Here’s how The Post breaks down the legal marijuana situation in Washington, D.C., our Nation’s Capital:

  • The sale and purchase of marijuana remains illegal in D.C., unlike in the four states that have fully legalized both recreational and medical marijuana.
  • Instead of being sold at shops and generating new tax revenue, marijuana in the District can only legally be grown at home and shared.
  • Smokers and growers can be more open about their cannabis passions, but local politicians, activists and businesspeople say that pot continues to be sold illegally at homes, on park benches, or on the street.
  • The illegal market in Washington is as robust as ever — perhaps more so with D.C. residents curious and talking about marijuana.

Here’s why the Washington, D.C. marijuana situation is so screwed up, according to The Post:

As written, the law allows for dozens of scenarios that cause residents and police officers to shrug their shoulders. You can’t buy or sell marijuana, but what exactly constitutes a transaction? The line between legal and illegal is fine and blurry, confusing many and creating loopholes that some growers and dealers hope to exploit.

The people who helped put legalization on last year’s ballot said this will be the reality for the city for at least two or three years. The federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug. Lawmakers’ positions on marijuana have not evolved as quickly as the public’s, and Congress has blocked the District from creating a system to tax and regulate pot sales.”

It’s that last part that should get your attention. Despite the fact that Washington, D.C. residents went to the polls and actually voted to legalize marijuana, Congress has big footed the local D.C. government and blocked their ability to create a system to not only regulate cannabis, but tax it as well.

Yes, the definition of insanity has to be when the Feds finally pass on taxing something.

This quote from The Post story really captures it all:

D.C. is kind of like the Alice in Wonderland of cannabis. The Queen of Hearts is Congress,” said Alex Jeffrey, the executive director of the D.C. chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Recreation and regulation should go hand in hand. We are an exception to the rule.”

This past week was pretty extraordinary when it comes to the battle to legalize cannabis. Not only did The Fourth Corner Credit Union in Denver sue the Federal Reserve for denying it access to the national banking system, but even The New York Times jumped in and editorialized that Congress and President Obama have both been too timid for not aggressively “debating and changing the nation’s absurd marijuana policies, policies that have ruined millions of lives and wasted billions of dollars.”

“Their inaction,” the newspaper says, “is putting businesses and individuals in states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana in dubious legal territory — doing something that is legal in their state but is considered a federal crime.”

It’s pretty amazing when America’s newspaper of record makes a case that the Feds need to tackle the growing national marijuana issue, but it is going to take more — a lot more — before Congress and the President get off their keisters, as Ronald Reagan used to say, and actually do something.

Yes, The Washington Post review of what has been happening in Washington, D.C. gives us great insight into how screwed up the national marijuana policy is.

It IS Alice in Wonderland, but eventually, Alice finally did manage to get out. When will the Cannabis Industry get their chance?

 

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