The Other Way to Legalize Marijuana: D.C. is about to make pot legal. Good, but it should keep the cannabis industry out

By MARK KLEIMAN | November 4, 2014

If the polling is right, residents of Washington, D.C., are likely to vote to legalize marijuana Tuesday. But it won’t be the kind of legalization we’ve seen up to now.

As written, D.C.’s Initiative 71 embodies a different—and perhaps better—approach to cannabis legalization than the laws already in effect in Colorado and Washington state, or the similar laws that Oregon and Alaska voters might adopt Tuesday. Those systems involve more or less the same policies that now apply to alcohol: private, for-profit production and sale, regulated and taxed by the state. By contrast, the proposed D.C. law won’t allow any commercial activity. District residents will be able to grow a limited number of plants, possess a limited amount of the resulting cannabis, and give away—but not sell—whatever they don’t want to smoke themselves. The system is called “grow and give.”

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