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Law District of Columbia

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Charges Dropped for All but 2 in DC Pot Giveaway

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against six of the eight people arrested during a marijuana giveaway near the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Friday that it would pursue misdemeanor charges only against two men who had more than 2 ounces of pot on them. Possession of up to 2 ounces for personal use is legal in the District of Columbia, although it remains illegal under federal law.

The men were arrested Thursday near the Capitol during a demonstration by pot legalization activists who were giving away free joints. Both have been released from custody and ordered to stay away from the Capitol Grounds.

One was Adam Eidinger, who led the ballot initiative that made pot legal in Washington. He did not immediately return a message.
 

deep_meditation

Well-Known Member
Rough week for DC.

Another rider by Andy Harris.

Stricter rules for MMJ cardholders.

I don't feel like posting links. It's upsetting.

I knew the cardholder regulations would happen at some point. People were greedy and unethical and blew it for everyone.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Rough week for DC.

Another rider by Andy Harris.

Stricter rules for MMJ cardholders.

I don't feel like posting links. It's upsetting.

I knew the cardholder regulations would happen at some point. People were greedy and unethical and blew it for everyone.

Please don't take this personally, but links or more info would be greatly appreciated. As it stands, I have no idea what you are talking about nor could I find any related news via google search. Thanks
 

deep_meditation

Well-Known Member
Please don't take this personally, but links or more info would be greatly appreciated. As it stands, I have no idea what you are talking about nor could I find any related news via google search. Thanks

Should have done that. You are 100% correct.

The Rider:

https://mobile.twitter.com/DCMJ2014/status/859067849314381830/photo/1

The MMJ changes:

http://lims.dccouncil.us/Download/37805/PR22-0233-Introduction.pdf

I'll give a patients perspective of PR22-0233 later on this week.
 
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Baron23

Well-Known Member
Should have done that. You are 100% correct.

Let me dig up the DC council document. Tom Angell posted about the Rider. I'll get that info tonight.
Thanks. The main news I'm aware of is that extension of the The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment (think that's its name) was successfully included in the budget that passed so this should keep DOJ out of the states business for a while....except I believe that ND was not added to the list of states.

Can't find news of any other significant action today in DC on MJ.

Thanks again.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Would this be it?

Congress Tightening Grip on DC Marijuana Legalization

By Tom Angell | May 02, 2017

In a little-noticed provision buried on page 633 of Congress’s new bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, lawmakers are moving to further crack down on Washington, D.C.’s ability to spend its own money to legalize and regulate marijuana sales.

Low-level possession and cultivation of cannabis is already legal in the nation’s capital under a ballot measure that District of Columbia voters overwhelmingly approved in 2014. But the city has been stymied from moving ahead to legally regulate and tax the marijuana market under a series of annual Congressional riders enacted in recent years.

Known as the “Harris Amendment” after its sponsor, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), the rider contains two parts: One provision mandating that the city can’t spend any federal funds on legalization and a second that strips it of the power to spend its own locally-raised money on ending prohibition.

But under the new funding legislation the scope of the ban would be even further expanded.

Here’s how it appears in current law under an appropriations bill signed by President Obama in December 2015:

Sec. 809. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

(b) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

In the new spending bill that must be enacted by Friday in order to keep the federal government funded through September 30, Congress is broadening the reach of the rider’s second part. It now reads (underlined emphasis added):

(b) No funds available for obligation or expenditure by the District of Columbia government under any authority may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

The key difference is that while the former version only barred the District from spending money allocated in a given year’s specific funding bill on legalization, the new version prevents the spending of any money to regulate marijuana.

Advocates have pushed the District Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to use the city’s contingency reserve funds to pay for marijuana legalization, something that they argue would be allowed under current law. A few Council members agreed and asked the mayor to act, though she didn’t.

“We urged @MayorBowser to do this 7 months ago,” Councilmember David Grosso tweeted on Tuesday when informed about the new proposed Congressional rider.

Now, with the broader language set to be enacted by Friday, marijuana law reform advocates are expressing frustration that D.C. officials haven’t made using all available options a bigger priority.

The only good news in this is that if this language stays in the appropriations bill (and yeah, fuck you Andy Harris from Garrett County) it will only be effective until next Sep (5 months) when that appropriation expires. Still sucks.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Capitol Police arrested a woman with marijuana in D.C., but charges were dropped. Now she’s fighting to get her weed back.

by Perry Stein June 8 at 6:00 AM

A District woman is firing a novel legal challenge to the ambiguous marijuana laws in the nation’s capital.

U.S. Capitol Police seized Jessica Laycock’s cannabis earlier this year on land under local police jurisdiction, but the charges against her were dropped. Now, she’s fighting to get her pot back.

Laycock, 25, was among seven protesters arrested on April 20 — an annual day of pro-pot advocacy — during a demonstration in which activists gave joints to congressional staffers to push for marijuana-friendly federal laws. Possession of marijuana is illegal on federal land, but protesters say they strategically held the event on District land, where possession of up to two ounces of pot is legal and small amounts can be given away free.

The circumstances of her case highlight the clash between federal pot laws and looser local regulations in a city where small amounts of marijuana are allowed.

U.S. Capitol Police also have jurisdiction on D.C. land, and its officers arrested some of the activists who openly smoked marijuana. Laycock originally was charged with possession and distribution of marijuana, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia dropped the charges. Upon her arrest, police seized Laycock’s marijuana — less than two ounces and considered legal on District land — and other marijuana- and cigarette-related paraphernalia.

“Federal laws apply throughout the District of Columbia and the federal law was applied by the [U.S. Capitol Police],” Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the federal police agency, wrote in an email.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case.

Laycock said since she was following the local law, her marijuana and vaporizer rightfully belong to her. A D.C. police spokeswoman said that the local police agency has returned marijuana to people who are 21 years or older.

“Why am I being told that my stuff is being incinerated?” said Laycock, who works as a cannabis lobbyist. “Where I was standing, cannabis was legal.”

Malecki said marijuana is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, and even though charges were dismissed, Capitol Police protocol calls for the marijuana to be destroyed. In the eyes of the federal police agency, Malecki said, marijuana is illegal everywhere in the city.

Nearly 70 percent of District residents favored a referendum in 2014 to legalize marijuana, and Laycock and her lawyer contend that the substance is now legal in the city, even if a Capitol Police officer is patrolling the area.

Laycock’s lawyer, Evan Parke — who is working the case on a pro-bono basis — said Capitol Police have refused to return Laycock’s possessions.

“The strongest legal argument is that she was not doing anything unlawful under D.C. law to begin with, and she was never charged,” Parke said, adding that since there were ultimately no federal charges, police shouldn’t keep what was taken from her.

Parke said is submitting public information requests to Capitol Police in hopes of determining what led them to make the arrests. It is unusual — although not unprecedented — for Capitol Police to make arrests on District grounds while applying federal laws.

Parke said if he doesn’t get clearer answers from police, he might file a lawsuit to get the property back for Laycock in the hopes of having a judge decide the fate.

“They are giving us the runaround,” he said.

Another woman at the April 20 protest is also seeking to have her cannabis returned. Adam Eidinger, a prominent D.C. marijuana activist who helped organize the demonstration and was also arrested, was carrying slightly above the D.C. legal limit of two ounces and is still facing charges. Because of that, he said, he is not asking police to return his marijuana, although he supports Laycock’s legal quest.

“They are letting the stigma of cannabis override the correct interpretation of the law,” Eidinger said

Wow, are Sessions and the Feds so on the wrong side of this issue from the electorate.....eventually they will get a spanking by the voting citizens and courts, IMO. On the other hand, Obama had the opportunity to reschedule MJ (its not a law...its solely an Executive branch decision and action) and he gutted out.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
DC Cannabis-Dealing Arrests Back to Pre-Legalization Levels
Washington, DC, voters legalized cannabis possession and cultivation in 2014, but—thanks to Congress blocking the District from launching a regulated market—sales remain illegal. The upshot? Over the past year, arrests for illegal sales have climbed to pre-legalization levels.


In 2016, 220 people were arrested for dealing the drug, according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department. That’s more than double the 2013 total of 99.

“There’s a hefty demand, the medical program has a high barrier, and we don’t have stores,” , the DC Cannabis Campaign’s co-founder Adam Eidinger told US News reporter Steven Nelson, who first reported the story. “Until we have stores, this is something police—if they want to—can pursue and get lots and lots of arrests.”

Some are concerned those arrests could be disproportionally hitting low-income people and people of color. US News reports that at least three of the arrests for distribution followed $20 stings by police in some of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods.

According to data from the Drug Policy Alliance, DC police have arrested 78 people for distribution this year as of April 5, putting the District on pace to surpass last year’s number by far.

Public consumption arrests have also been skyrocketing since 2014. That year there were 114 arrests for public consumption. That number jumped to 142 in 2015 and to 402 in 2016.

Arrests for possession, however, have plummeted in the years following legalization. In 2014 there were 1,575 arrests for possession. By 2015, that number dropped to 55. In 2016, it fell to 32.

upload_2017-6-25_16-21-16.png


So, how do you defend this, ole Jefferson, old boy? Hmmm...let's see...legal in DC by local law. Feds interfere to prevent the establishment of a regulated legal market forcing citizens to break the law while still being in conformance with the law. So what happens, busts go up. Are these those nasty, dangerous, drug gangs and cartels being busted? FUCK NO! This is guys getting popped and having their life ruined by a $20 pot sting bust. The idiocy behind all of this is just breathtaking. Well, Jefferson...what do you have to say for yourself?
 
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CarolKing

Always in search of the perfect vaporizer
I'm sad to say the country has gone backwards so much in such a short period of time. This is what can happen when the wrong person wins the election. This is causing a lot of anxiety for many people in the U.S
 

deep_meditation

Well-Known Member
Basically, in DC they tightened everything up. You can’t just go to any doctor for a recommendation. It has to be your primary care physician. If your primary care doctor won’t sign off on it I think they can refer you to someone who will.

But if they won’t sign off on it why would they refer you to someone. :thinker:

Why did they do this? I think certain doctors were getting involved with dispensaries to help people obtain cards. At least that was what the official language suggested. This never should have happened and it didn’t need to.... greedy fucks.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Washington, D.C. To Give Minorities Preference for Getting into MMJ Industry

Members of the Washington D.C. Council advanced legislation to give local minority-owned companies a preference when applying for licenses to operate medical marijuana businesses.

While states generally don’t track the race and ethnicity of weed license applicants, it’s obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past decade that most dispensaries and the vast majority of growing operations around the country are overwhelmingly dominated by white men.

This lack of minority representation is especially problematic given that African Americans were—and still are—disproportionately arrested and incarcerated during the War on Drugs, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for possession, noteed the ACLU.

However, the nation’s capital is the latest jurisdiction to join a growing nationwide effort to ensure that minorities are in a position to profit from legal weed sales after decades of being disproportionately prosecuted for using and selling it.

“We at the D.C. government have an obligation to make sure that minorities and local small businesses can get in on the ground floor and secure a piece of this foundation,” said council member Robert C. White Jr., who sponsored the recently passed legislation.

“We have locked up so many black people for marijuana, and I see it as incredibly hypocritical for those folks to return from prison on marijuana charges just to come back to a place that has now legalized and industrialized it, and they can’t play any role,” said White, according to the Washington Post. “Now, it could be a boon to these communities, but minorities have been left out.”

According to the Post, the emergency bill to give minority-owned businesses extra weight on their applications comes as the District is preparing to award a permit to open a dispensary in the overwhelmingly black neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

A spokeswoman for D.C.’s Mayor Muriel E. Bowser says she’s still reviewing the legislation, but her administration is taking steps to implement it.

What goes on in Washington, D.C., apart from the all-out insanity in the White House?

D.C. currently has eight weed cultivation centers and five dispensaries. Only one cultivator is black. The ethnic composition of Washington, D.C. is 49 percent black, 43.6% percent.

Why the disparity?

According to a study released by the Urban Institute, although D.C. has undergone an economic boom over the past several years, the city’s poor and largely minority residents are missing out on the gravy train.

The study showed that the number of new businesses in the nation’s capital exploded over the past 15 years, but in the poorest neighborhoods the number has actually dropped.

The above-mentioned “east of the Anacostia River” is an area that, being relatively equal in terms of population to other D.C. neighborhoods, has missed out on most of the development seen in the city’s center.

Washington, D.C. also happens to be one of the most segregated cities in the country, according to data guru Nate Silver, who crunched the numbers.

Thankfully, this past February, D.C. lifted its prohibition against felons convicted of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana from entering the medical marijuana industry, citing the obvious racial disparities in how the law was enforced.

In Oakland, California, the city council has specifically set aside half of its cannabis business permits for people arrested for drug crimes in the city or who come from neighborhoods with many drug arrests.

I can't support this. No matter the justification and rationale, race based issuance of licensing is racist by definition and I oppose it. Further, in DC minority generally equals black Americans and not Latinos, Asians, Jews, Turkmen, or any other damn group. You will be hard pressed to find DC politicians interested in protecting the rights of Nepalese, for example. If members of minorities want to win a license, then the proper way is to write a competent and competitive proposal. Licenses issued by competition should, IMO, be won by the best and most qualified applicant. Yeah, call me heartless but racist policy is racist policy, under all conditions.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
D.C. Marijuana Market: Stuck In A Gray Zone

While public support for marijuana grows across the country, ambiguity surrounding marijuana laws in Washington, D.C., has provided an opportunity for online distributors. But it has also put consumers in a tricky spot.

The District's recreational marijuana law, a voter-approved ballot initiative passed in 2014, legalized the possession, cultivation and gifting of certain amounts of recreational marijuana, but not the selling of it. Initiative 71's framework left open the question of where people would get the recreational pot that they are allowed to possess.

Local politicians and the D.C. Department of Health have argued in favor of fully legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana, but Congress has prevented the District from moving forward by restricting its funding. That funding remains in question as Congress debates spending bills for the next fiscal year. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting member of the U.S. House, has been lobbying lawmakers to lift the regulations.

In the meantime, some D.C. distributors have found a way to thrive.

LeafedIn, an app that provides a map of cannabis distributors, has seen an exponential increase in D.C. users this summer. John Khainson, one of the founders of LeafedIn, points out another trend in the current market: "We have seen an increasing amount of female users. This is a great indicator since the marijuana industry has been male-dominated for decades."

D.C. blogger and weed connoisseur Joe Tierney, also known as the Gentleman Toker, says young entrepreneurs are increasingly taking advantage of the law's gray areas around "gifting" to promote their startups. They'll sell food or clothes along with a marijuana "bonus."

"The cool thing about Initiative 71 is that it's created this power dynamic where brands can get recognition through cannabis," he says. "Businesses like District of C and Pink Fox have really grown their art and fashion lines directly through this self-managed system."

To be clear, selling weed still isn't legal in D.C., says Kate Bell, a member of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.

"Let's say you were running a sandwich shop and you decide as a promotion that for your hundredth customer, you were going to gift them a free bag of cannabis. That would be legal because you're clearly not selling the cannabis. It's a one-time unexpected thing, and you're selling your product at a reasonable price," she says. "But the idea that you can sell a $150 bottle of juice with 'free cannabis' isn't legal. It's clear people aren't paying for the juice."

The confusion isn't just about distribution. Consumers are running into their own gray areas. Bell stresses that one of the reasons legalization advocates like herself are pushing for broader legalization is because of a disparity between property owners and renters. People who rent their homes are more likely to run into issues with their landlord and may even be evicted. Tenants who possess marijuana may hesitate to file apartment complaints for fear of retribution.

Bell also worries about the continued racial disparities in public-consumption arrests; D.C. bars consumption of marijuana in public spaces and on federal property.

"One of the purposes of legalization was to address some of the discriminatory practices predominantly targeting African-Americans," she says. Decriminalizing marijuana made the number of arrests go down, but there are still disparities. "Before the Initiative, 91 percent of public consumption arrests reported by police were African-American. It's gone down to about 85 percent, which still isn't good."

As public support for marijuana has reached a record high, more states are jumping on the legalization bandwagon. On July 1, Nevada became the fifth state to allow the recreational use of cannabis.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced an amendment that prevents the government from impeding medical marijuana laws in individual states and D.C. That was in defiance of a request by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization.

Financial restrictions to the District's marijuana laws remain under consideration for the 2018 fiscal year.


But for now, D.C. distributors continue operating in the gray areas of Initiative 71. Nikolas Schiller, one of the law's authors, says the success of those distributors shows the economic opportunities that are possible if Congress lets D.C. establish a regulated marijuana market.

"It's disappointing that Congress is continuing the prohibition by not letting us move forward," he says. "They're denying D.C. residents jobs, they're denying the D.C. government millions of dollars in tax revenue, and they're denying a lot of people the opportunity to get into the ground level of an industry that is poised to make billions of dollars for the country."
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
The D.C. residents left out of the ‘District of Cannabis’
Initiative 71 brought sweeping change to the District, but because of federal regulation, many longtime residents feel left out of the new “District of Cannabis.” In 2014, residents voted to legalize possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, growth of up to six plants and indoor use for everyone 21 or older, but like everything in the District, it’s not that simple.

Not everyone can actually smoke or medicate at home. Home use and home-grow are controlled by property owners. Marijuana use policies are set by landlords, so renters should be careful to check marijuana-smoking policies in their lease terms before signing away their rights under Initiative 71. Tenants in public housing don’t get to choose a cannabis-friendly lease and are forced to take the restrictions of the federal government, unless they want to risk becoming homeless.

The federal government still treats cannabis as a dangerous Schedule I drug and forbids possessing, consuming or growing marijuana in public housing. Federal housing residents can’t smoke outside either because public use was banned by the D.C. Council, and they can’t go to a cannabis lounge because the council banned social use, too. So even after legalizing marijuana in the District, the 20,000 residents whose landlord is the federal government are stuck living under draconian, drug-war policing and don’t have a safe place to smoke or medicate in or out of their home.

Homeowners, however, are under no such restrictions and can take full advantage of the Initiative 71 liberties to consume and grow cannabis in their homes in the District. Given the high prices of the medical marijuana program, many low-income cannabis patients would prefer to save money by growing their own medicine at home, but they can’t.

The unfortunate result is that access to Initiative 71 freedoms functions as a system in which the rich can afford to exercise their rights in the privacy of their homes that they own, and low-income residents are locked up or locked out by the nanny state. At a recent meeting in a Northeast public library, members of the community group DCMJ aired their frustration about current marijuana policies in public housing.

One DCMJ member who lives in a subsidized unit in Southeast reported that she was greeted the day after the annual April 20 marijuana holiday to a big orange memo from building management notifying residents that marijuana use was prohibited in and around the property. The notice explained that if tenants break this rule, they have one chance to correct the violation, but if they receive federal housing subsidies, then they are subject to a “one strike” rule and could be evicted immediately without a chance to appeal. In today’s Washington, money buys leniency and the freedom to avoid the threat of eviction and harassment for marijuana, and if you can’t pay, you’re in trouble.

The DCMJ member noted that after she spoke up about black mold in the building, she was intimidated by the management of her building for using marijuana, even though she has a medical card for her fibromyalgia. Many of the residents on the block smoke, and she is worried that the management will target residents who use marijuana and encourage neighbors to report on each other so that it can continue to neglect maintenance issues. The resident also worries that developers might be setting the stage for mass evictions as the area gentrifies from the Anacostia extension of the D.C. Streetcar.

For people receiving federal housing vouchers, Initiative 71 is irrelevant. That’s not fair. There should not be different sets of rules for those who can pay and those who can’t. The District needs one set of laws. Initiative 71 was supposed to provide liberty for all, not just privileges for some.


What really gripes me is not just that our politicians create these inconsistent, illogical, ambiguous, and contradictory policies.....but then they smile at us and claim honors for having set up this half ass shit.
 

deep_meditation

Well-Known Member
Giving The Gift of Green in the District of Cannabis.

What a joke it is in the District. I've seen this happening all over the place - just like the article describes. One restaurant I went to even had an advertisement for one of these events. It was just a regular sandwich type of shop. The shop wasn't involved in the event but I guess an employee was just marketing/throwing it out there.

"Buy a bottle of our natural non-GMO kale, wheatgrass and apple juice and we'll throw in a 1/4 bag or a 1/2 of high grade as a free gift." The sign didn't say exactly that - but it was easy enough to interpret.

If I remember correctly, residents are permitted 6 plants in the District and up to three can be mature. I've seen some of the mature plants behind a few row homes... then you've got the guys who set-up those indoor grow boxes in people's homes. They'll even maintain them like an aquarium service would maintain someone's expensive saltwater tank. Given the excess of buds this was bound to happen. I don't know anything about growing but I assume if you have a plant that's practically a tree it's going to yield a lot. The dealers are making a killing too - the permissiveness of all of it has caused people to be less cautious and somewhat reckless about it. I worry about all of the maneuvering. I wish it could just be regulated and sold in stores. $130 million in tax revenue would be great for the city. However, given the oversight that's not likely to happen anytime soon. The recklessness makes me worry about some type of retaliation.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
What a bizarre approach to getting cannabis into patients hands! And you don't get to choose what you are getting... which is additionally weird. And with no regulations you have no way of knowing if there are pesticides, etc.

I don't know anything about growing but I assume if you have a plant that's practically a tree it's going to yield a lot.
Indeed. And that's how many growers are getting around plant limitations. If you can have 5 plants, why not grow mothers? They can be tree size and will yield substantially more than a small plant.

I worry about all of the maneuvering.
I think that's something that could be said for the entire legalization movement. The politicians are making this an impossible situation for so many of the states. Especially when they decide to interpret the law in their own terms.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
What a bizarre approach to getting cannabis into patients hands!

This doesn't apply to patients, this is the rec market only. There are dispensaries in DC for patients who have a DC card.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
The reason that grow your own is doing so well in DC is that the Fed Congress is not allowing DC to spend funds to regulate recreational use, hence all of the donate-and-gift and home growing. Yes, it was the Republicans who pushed that through led by an ass-hat from the western part of my state, Maryland.

A grow-your-own pot boom: From young tokers to elderly cancer patients


By Steve Hendrix November 22 at 12:01 PM


In the District, closet smokers are becoming closet growers. And basement growers. And attic growers. And on a recent Saturday, several hundred of them showed up at a specialty store in search of something to grow.

It was a free “clone share” at Good Hope Hydroponics in Southeast Washington, and the line threading around the block waiting for the ready-to-root plantings showed how many people are cultivating their own marijuana in the nation’s capital. From young tokers to elderly first-timers to avid gardeners, the grow-your-own scene has bloomed since it became legal in 2015 to keep up to six plants at home. Some get into the technique. Others are patients looking for cheaper alternatives to the medical dispensaries, which charge premium prices for medicinal marijuana not covered by insurance. Some apparently just got bored with tomatoes.

“Interest has really spiked,” said Good Hope owner Chris Washburn, guiding the crowd amid racks of bat guano and root stimulator while marveling that the Washington area has turned into one of the country’s most open cultivation scenes within the $6.7 million national marijuana economy.

For the customers crowding his store, home growing is on par with home brewing, with a similar hobbyist vibe. The regulars swap tips, buy supplies, brag about their results.

GROWYROWN002.JPG
Good Hope Hydroponics draws a crowd on a Saturday morning for its marijuana clone share. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
“Dude, the thing is like a tree now,” said a man in a Redskins sweatshirt.

“You gotta spring for the LEDs,” said another, standing with a friend near the selection of lightbulbs, a bag of Happy Frog coconut-fiber soil under his arm.

“Have you checked the pH?” wondered a third. “Are you using tap water?”

By the end of the day, Washburn would give away almost 500 clones, small bits of branch donated by customers, that he cleans and makes ready for rooting. The night before, almost 20 people had filled the store for one of its weekly how-to seminars conducted by an expert grower.

Even more teaching goes on over the counter, as with the man in the pressed khakis and expensive peacoat who was quizzing an employee on which air filtration system would keep the condo association from sniffing out his bathroom greenhouse. He declined to be interviewed.

Washburn estimated that between 20 and 50 people a week come in to learn the essentials and buy the basic gear, all of them comfortable in their botanical correctness.

“For years, you could only discuss ‘tomatoes’ in the store; we’d ask you to leave if you even used the word cannabis,” Washburn said. “Now, everyone’s out in the open and new people are pouring in.”

The home front horticulture is just one (well-fertilized) outgrowth of the revolution in cannabis regulation that has swept the District since medical marijuana became legal in 2011. More than 5,300 residents with physician-approved cards have access to five city-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries which sell cannabis from eight city-regulated cultivation centers.

In 2014, voters approved Initiative 71, making it legal for any resident to possess, smoke and give away small amounts of cannabis, an ostensibly private liberty that has exploded into a de facto open market. Residents can have pot delivered to their front porches by companies that sell them cookies, juice or other products at premium prices and include a free “gift.” Pop-up events are common at clubs around the city, where vendors set up tables and offer the same sort of wink-wink transaction. Multiple websites connect sellers and buyers.

Initiative 71 also greenlighted (or grow-lighted) the home-cultivation movement. Any resident 21 or older can grow up to six cannabis plants — three mature and three immature — which has drawn users of all kinds to try their thumbs at hydroponics.

Bron Baylor had been a regular pot user for years when it became legal to grow his own. The 24-year-old HVAC technician jumped at the chance, in part because it would keep him from the suspect pot that street dealers sometimes sold him. He started with some leftover seeds from his stash and a bag of Miracle Grow from Home Depot and, at first, sprouted nothing but some sad, bald sticks.

Now, Baylor is a true hobbyist, as into the process as the product. With a basement full of lights, filtration, fish meal, humidifiers and moisture meters, he grows not just bushy sativa and indica plants but regular crops of blue-ribbon cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and squash.

“I feel like growing cannabis actually keeps me off the streets,” he said, holding a baggie of clones he was hurrying home to plant. “I was never a gardener before.”

Belinda Cunningham, 66, has had her medical cannabis card for five years and depends on the buds and oils to stomach the 15 pills a day she takes for cancer and HIV. But dispensary prices put a strain on her fixed income, so Cunningham took a how-to class and planted a seedling.

Cannabis is notoriously finicky plant, a reputation promoted — or some say invented — by the companies that make specialty gear and additives. But Cunningham’s was a bushy success until someone in her building — she suspects maintenance workers — picked it nearly bare. Cunningham and some other seniors found a friend with space to spare and opened a safe house grow room where she has taught several older users how to cultivate their own. She wouldn’t say where.

“You have to be careful,” she said. “People will steal it.”

Among those buying and growing pot in the District are some who came expressly to do just that. A growing community of cannabis refugees are setting up residence in Washington to gain access to medical marijuana and the District’s other pot liberties.

One couple, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they fear the stigma, moved from North Carolina shortly after the 84-year-old husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and a tumor in his brain. They rented a basement apartment in Northwest Washington, obtained medical-marijuana cards and commissioned their dispensary, Takoma Wellness Center, to sell them the special extract he needs.

Now, the couple wants to grow their own cannabis, both because the vials of oil are expensive, at about $138 each, and they want to experiment with juicing the raw plants. But with cultivation still mostly a secret science, they found it hard to get started. When the wife asked agricultural extension agents for guidance via a website, they quickly begged off, referring her to the District’s Health Department. The agency, which administers the medical marijuana program, does not offer DIY classes.

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“Most people I know are like me; they don’t know where to start,” said the wife, who never smoked, much less grew pot, while growing up. “It’s legal, but it’s not easy.”

Washburn said there are often a few older beginners in the classes offered at his shop, most of them medical-marijuana users looking to supplement their dispensary supply. But he warns that home growing may not be a cheaper option. With a steep learning curve and starter kits beginning at $300 to $500, it takes a lot of investment to get to the first good buds.

“Just because you spent the money on the equipment doesn’t mean you’re going to get a good harvest out of it,” Washburn said.

He can afford to be frank. After two years of legal growing, some of his customers have gotten so good that they are setting up as vendors at pop-up events. To his fertilizers and seedling trays, he has added a whole line of retail-style containers and labels.

In Washington, the pot business is growing like a weed.
 
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Baron23

Well-Known Member
And that asshat, Harris, is from western Maryland...my home state. I'm ashamed to say that.

How Congress unwittingly turned the nation's capital into the Wild West of marijuana

It’s not the promise of prompt delivery that has residents of Washington, D.C., spending fifty bucks for nondescript glass jars, nor is it the small jars themselves, which resemble something found on the bottom shelf of a Dollar Tree.

It is the unmentioned “gift” which a local online upstart, Trendingleafs, tucks inside each jar: fragrant clusters of Grape Ape, Purple Kush or Woody Harrelson OG. Or it might be cannabis-laced snickerdoodles or a vial of Lemon Haze concentrate.

The explosion of small businesses openly distributing thousands of such mind-altering “gifts” daily throughout the capital is not what Congress had in mind when it banned regulated sales of recreational pot in the nation’s capital, defying the will of local voters. Instead of shutting the legalization movement down, however, Congress has helped make this often-staid East Coast city the Wild West of recreational pot distribution.

Nowhere is more pot sold so openly and publicly without any of the rules and regulations that elsewhere have come with legalization.

Hawkers of bud here will tell you they are not selling it, but giving it away. They bestow gifts on strangers who make ostensibly legitimate purchases of other goods from them — a bottle of juice, for example, or a bag of cookies priced at $50, which happens to be the going rate for a delivered dime bag. Sometimes these companies forget to deliver the item they nominally sold. But the customers generally don’t complain, as long as the gift arrives.

Selling a token container of food or a pair of socks for fifty bucks and attaching a free bag of pot is technically illegal in Washington. But local officials are hardly cracking down.

Congress’ action left city officials unable to impose any oversight on the recreational pot trade, which local voters legalized by referendum in 2014. The congressional ban, adopted shortly after the referendum, prevented the city government from using any of its funds to implement legalization. Even holding a hearing on setting up a regulated legal market could constitute a felony.

The result has been to turn Washington into the country’s biggest experiment in largely unregulated marijuana selling.

“This is an enormous market over here,” said Joe Tierney, who plays a crucial role as the author of a blog called the “Gentleman Toker,” which guides smokers to start-ups providing pot gifts and posts exhaustive reviews. He counts some 30 companies taking delivery orders through well-established websites, and another 300 or so upstarts selling over social media on any given day.

“It is the only recreational market on the East Coast,” Tierney said. “People come up to buy all the way from South Carolina. They come down from Pennsylvania, Jersey, Ohio. Even companies out West are looking at how can they get in on this crazy market. It is a very interesting time.”

Local law enforcement hasn’t turned an altogether blind eye. Occasional raids do take place, typically directed at the most flagrant operators.

“The ones we come across are usually pretty brazen,” said Lt. Andrew Struhar of the Narcotics and Special Operations Division of Washington's Metropolitan Police Department. “There are so many of these companies that we wind up just scratching the surface,” he said.

“This speaks to the fact that you can possess and use marijuana in your home, but there is technically no legal way to get it other than grow it,” Struhar added. “A lot of these companies are trying to fill a void, and they are trying to figure out a way to do it cleverly and legally.”

To some, the thriving industry of start-ups openly selling pot online, at head shops and at almost daily publicly advertised pot flea markets in bars, clubs and private homes throughout the city has become a symbolic snub of Washington’s congressional overlords.

On a recent weeknight at the XO Lounge, a few blocks north of the White House, each of three floors was packed with vendors collectively selling enough weed to keep the neighborhood of lobbyists and deal makers high throughout the Trump administration. House music thumped. The air was thick with smoke. The event was open to anyone who clicked on an easy-to-find Eventbrite link. Ten bucks or a toy donation for local kids got you inside.

Across town in Adams Morgan, the Funky Piece head shop alerts entering customers with a curbside sign directing them to ask about the free “gifts” that come with purchase of smoking accessories.

Even some legalization proponents worry Washington’s inability to impose any regulations over its rapidly emerging pot market creates public health and financial problems. The city lacks any of the safeguards in place in states that have legalized, such as those that will govern sales in California starting in January.

Marijuana here is not tested for dangerous pesticides or mold. Nor is it sent to a lab for an assessment, which buyers can use to gauge potency and potential psychoactive effects. The city is not collecting tax revenue on the sales, which could be used to fund public health programs.

At the same time, the path the city has reluctantly forged has kept it relatively free of corporate marijuana players, who have an outsize role in influencing marijuana rules in the states that have regulated pot sales. The entrepreneurs thriving in DC are all small operators, and they are a diverse group.

“It shows how you can have legalization without mass commercialization,” said Adam Eidinger, who led the 2014 legalization campaign. “There are some things about it that are really nice.”

And some who have studied markets elsewhere question whether the consumer protections other states promise are overblown.

“I’m not sure how valuable a lot of those regulations in other places are,” said Mark Kleimann, a professor of public policy at NYU. The product testing that some states require lacks rigor and may remain unreliable as long as the federal government refuses to get involved in setting standards, he says.

Critics of Washington’s situation typically direct blame at one man, Rep. Andy Harris, the Maryland Republican who wrote the budget amendment prohibiting the city from regulating the sale of recreational pot.

“One congressman from Maryland single-handedly created the least effective system in the U.S. for guarding against any challenges marijuana presents,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Harris, who is a medical doctor, says he has no second thoughts.

The ban on recreational pot sales in Washington, he said, “sends a powerful signal to the rest of the country that other jurisdictions should think twice about this. It is a dangerous substance. We have not done the medical research necessary to outline what the dangers are.”

He says Washington is in a mess of its own making.

“I’m shocked they are not doing something about this,” he said. “They could choose to enforce the law.”

Yet even Congress is sending mixed signals on pot — maintaining Harris’ ban, but also keeping in place a prohibition on federal drug agents raiding medical marijuana businesses that operate legally under state laws. The restrictions on the Drug Enforcement Administration so far have been kept in place despite aggressive lobbying by Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who wants a free hand to go after legal pot.

In some ways, says Kleimann, Washington’s situation is a workable compromise — legalization without the proliferation of marijuana storefronts and marketing campaigns that in other jurisdictions create a constant temptation.

In Washington, Kleimann said, marijuana is easy to find. But at least you have to look for it.

“I like cannabis being available to people who want it,” he said, “without entrapping them into substance abuse.”
 

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