In a surprising turnaround, the D.C. Council is rethinking a ban on private marijuana-smoking clubs, as pot advocates press for places for residents to light up outside of their homes.
The council on Tuesday approved the formation of a task force to examine the feasibility of clubs for marijuana smokers, and postponed action on a bill that would permanently ban such establishments.
“Democracy and common sense prevailed in the District today,” said Kaitlyn Boecker, a policy analyst for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Today’s withdrawal of the permanent ban shows that elected officials have finally begun to heed their constituents’ wishes, but the fight for the creation of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana is far from over.”
Council member Vincent Orange, at-large Democrat, introduced the task force amendment. It calls for a seven-member panel to issue within 120 days a report to the council on city agencies that need to be involved in regulating clubs, the amount of marijuana that would be allowed in a venue, how security would be handled, the number and location of venues, and whether the District can legally allow clubs to host pot-smoking events.
The task force will not be allowed to look into the sale and taxation of marijuana, and only will make recommendations to the council, Mr. Orange said.
The panel will consist of two members from the D.C. Council, one from the Office of the D.C. Attorney General and five from city agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Health Department, who will be appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Last week, the Judiciary Committee quietly approved a permanent ban on private clubs, with Council Chairman Phil Mendelson casting the deciding vote to send the legislation to the full council.
Marijuana advocates argued that the committee rushed the…