Washington lawmakers took a step toward legalizing the sale of marijuana in the U.S. capital on Thursday, holding a hearing on rules and taxes ahead of a referendum next week.
The proposed legislation to regulate marijuana sales in the District of Columbia is part of a sharp shift in U.S. public opinion in the past several years that has pushed legalized pot toward the mainstream.
Advocates at the hearing said the legal sale of marijuana was a top civil rights issue since blacks were far more likely to be arrested for pot possession than people of other races.
“It is time to end the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition. It has … made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens,” Stacia Cosner, deputy director of the advocacy group Students for Sensible Drug Policy, told the joint hearing of the council’s finance and business committees.
The proposal would legalize marijuana possession and private consumption for people 21 and older. Marijuana sales would be regulated by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and taxed similarly to alcohol.
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