In Washington, D.C. the Mayor and City Council are in the midst of a controversy over whether marijuana consumption should be allowed in private clubs. Under current D.C. law, use of marijuana is banned in “any place to which the public is invited.” While the law clearly allows use of marijuana in a private residence (other than federally subsidized housing where all marijuana use is banned), what is less clear is whether the law permits use of pot in a private club, such as a members only social club.
The City Council has been debating this issue since last year when it passed emergency legislation banning such use. In January of this year, the Council passed the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 extending the ban for an additional 90 days. This legislation classifies a private club as a “place to which the public is invited.” Subsequent to passing this Act, the Council then passed the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Temporary Act of 2016 extending the ban for an additional 225 days from its effective date, which is expected to be April 29, 2016.
It had been widely expected that a task force would be appointed to study this issue, and last week the Mayor did just that by Executive Order. Composed of seven members, (the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Commission, the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Director of the Department of Health, the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia and two members of the DC Council), the task force is required to submit its report within 120 days of the effective date of the order, which would be July 1, 2016.
The District of Columbia joins other jurisdictions in which recreational marijuana is legal in trying to draw the boundaries of public consumption of marijuana in which the public’s view on the subject seems to change daily.