Nearly four months after 70 percent of district voters approved a referendum ending pot prohibition, marijuana legalization took effect in Washington, D.C. at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, despite last-ditch Republican efforts to thwart legalization.
Washingtonians may now grow, possess, and use the drug, but unlike weed legalization regimes in Colorado and Washington State, they won't be able to purchase pot at specialty stores. But stores selling marijuana paraphernalia are expected the proliferate throughout the city.
Shortly after district voters overwhelmingly approved the pot referendum, known as Initiative 71, Congressman Andy Harris, a Republican from rural Maryland, attempted to block the initiative from taking effect, generating howls of protest for D.C. residents, whose local laws can be overturned by congressional lawmakers even though D.C. has no voting representatives in Congress.
On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who chairs the subcommittee which oversees D.C. affairs, sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declaring that legalization would be “in knowing and willful violation of the law." Chaffetz even suggested in a Washington Post interview that Bowser could "go to prison" for implementing Initiative 71.
But Bowser was undeterred, and legalization opponents concede the new reality. "There's no talk of litigation," Meadows told the Post, although he threatened that it could become “very difficult for D.C.” to secure funding for other affairs.
D.C.'s pot legalization comes one day after Alaska became the first red state to legalize weed.