District of Columbia puts limits on newly legalized marijuana

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2015 3:49 PM

By John Clarke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The District of Columbia city council voted on Tuesday to limit newly legal marijuana use, banning smoking in bars and clubs and restricting it to private homes.

Council members voted unanimously to effectively ban so-called pot clubs that charge an admission fee. It also passed an amendment barring potential employers from testing job applicants for pot until after a conditional job offer.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the council agreed that the bill was needed to clarify the new law that took effect last week allowing recreational pot use in the U.S. capital.

Legalization met opposition from Republicans on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee who said the move was unlawful. Congress has oversight of the District of Columbia.

But Bowser and city leaders went ahead and the District of Columbia joined Washington state, Alaska and Colorado in legalizing the recreational use of pot. Sale of marijuana is still prohibited.

Initiative 71, a ballot measure legalizing pot possession, was approved by 65 percent of District of Columbia voters in November. The law allows adults to possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana and to grow six plants at home, but does not allow public smoking.

Marijuana is also barred in about 20 percent of the city that is federal land. The law allows smoking in private homes.

Pot legislation proponents say the new measure is too broad, and wrongfully bars smoking pot and socializing outside homes.

The D.C. Cannabis Campaign, which spearheaded Initiative 71, has threatened to stage a smoke-in to protest the law. A spokesman said a protest is expected soon.

(Editing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)