Marijuana Legalization Washington D.C.—Will It Work?
There are plenty of compelling arguments as to why marijuana should be legal (Just to name a few: medicinal marijuana effects, legal marijuana taxation, and how legalizing weed comes without the toxicity and adverse health effects of other legal substances, like tobacco or alcohol).
More frequently, however, it’s becoming less of a question should marijuana be legalized, and more a question of how.
For example, what kind of marijuana taxation laws and individual possession laws will be in place for a given state that opts to legalize marijuana? What about laws for owning and operating medical marijuana dispensaries? Or growing marijuana on your own?
In Washington D.C. it is now legal to posses, grow, smoke or bake with marijuana, and yet it cannot be bought or sold. Those are the cannabis facts of life, in the nation’s capital—though marijuana use is totally fine, you still can’t trade in marijuana, as was reported in The New York Times online.
Sorry, that means pot in lieu of cash is a no-no. So no barter system, either.
Of course, everybody who sits in the cannabis club and understands the economic and social pros and cons of marijuana, as well as the human rights avenue of argumentation, would like to see the full legalization of weed. But what is clear by now, is that there are different stages in the ongoing effort and process to legalize marijuana; to demonstrate the cannabis plant’s non-toxicity to the public, as has already been empirically proven in scientific research, and build a kind of social and political capital—by shifting perceptions of marijuana—is an intermediate grounds and acceptable step or stage between prohibition as it has existed for most of the twentieth century and a fully commercialized and recreationally legal marijuana market.
One early, important step in the legalization of weed is the availability of medical cannabis for those who are suffering most, of physical, mental or emotional pain, and may heal or find greater quality of life through marijuana effects. Decriminalization of marijuana is another step that allows cities to focus on other issues (i.e. education, poverty, violent crime) instead of enforcing small marijuana possession violations.
In Washington, D.C., noncommercial marijuana legalization shares aims with other legalization models, even if its means are different. In an article from the The New York Times, according to Mark Kleinman, a drug policy expert at the University of California in Los Angeles, noncommercial legalization allows cannabis access to those who need it the most, while it prevents cannabis companies, dispensaries, and marketing efforts that target the people who are at highest risk of “abuse,” the heaviest users, who meet some kind of clinical criterion for substance dependency.
Of course, not all cannabis users will want to nurture and care for their marijuana plants at home. Expending a little bit of TLC for their THC takes time, effort and expertise. So why not pay for quality if you can afford it?
That’s something Klein anticipates, but sees the small time, discrete trade as a better alternative to black markets. He hopes that like technically illegal gambling, or the “home poker game, [it]…isn’t likely to cause violent crime or draw government attention in the way a full-scale gambling operation might.”