History of CBD and Cannabis: District of Columbia
Following a 2014 ballot referendum, cannabis became legal for both recreational and medical use in the District of Columbia, despite being barred from commercial sale. Even more contentiously, local government has had very little control over regulating the sale of cannabis since US Congress exercises power over the area.
The district suffers from a complex and often conflicting patchwork of legal restrictions concerning cannabis and CBD policy. Even though it’s technically legal, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which means it is illegal to possess marijuana in over 30 percent of the district’s land.
Over and over again, we’ll see examples of how residents, local officials, and US Congress members’ distinct ideas about cannabis have informed the district’s policy.
Cannabis, CBD, and the District of Columbia
It was in 1906 that Congress first instituted cannabis regulation policy into the district, requiring that medications with cannabis be limited to licensed pharmacists and prescriptions. Although most residents were opposed to the policy, it still passed nearly unanimously through Congress.
Almost one hundred years later, initiative 59 appeared as a voter-approved ballot initiative that sought to legalize medical cannabis. Even though it passed the vote, Congress once again blocked implementation and denied funding to the program. It would take another fifteen years before the first medical cannabis dispensary to open up in the district.
These efforts were followed by full decriminalization resolutions. In 2014, one poll showed that 8 out of 10 residents supported full legalization of marijuana, which prompted the city council to minimize possession penalties.
Congress sought to block this initiative through denying funding for lessening the penalties on marijuana and police retraining.
Despite these persistent setbacks, more and more ballot initiatives reiterated residents’ broad approval of cannabis and CBD. Full legalization went into effect just a year after the passage of the decriminalization initiative.
Even though congress continues to block funding and disenfranchise regulatory programs to support legalization, the city has seen an 80 percent decline in the number of marijuana related arrests in the past five years. Rates of opioid abuse and non-violent drug offenses across all categories have also seen a sharp drop.
Currently, Congress is working on passing an omnibus spending bill that will specifically target the district’s local initiatives. This bill could make it illegal for the city council to make any shift to federal policy concerning the sale, distribution, and regulation of Schedule I substances like marijuana.
It got so heated that the congressional Republican Andy Harris threatened the DC mayor with prison time for his local enactment of cannabis decriminalization. However, most residents feel secure that they’ll have continued access to cannabis and CBD products.