Legal marijuana could be $130 million a year business in DC, study finds – Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis,

If D.C. residents vote to legalize marijuana possession next week, it wouldn’t just mean a sea change in drug policy in the nation’s capital. It could also mean big business.

A study by District financial officials shared Thursday with lawmakers estimates a legal D.C. cannabis market worth $130 million a year.

The ballot initiative voters will see Tuesday does not allow for the legal sale of marijuana — only the possession and home cultivation of small amounts — but D.C. Council members gathered Thursday to hear testimony about what a legal sales regime might look like.

The issues pondered included how marijuana might be grown, tracked, sold and taxed, but more than a few witnesses showed up simply to cheer on or warn against the general notion of legalization.

Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) repeatedly reminded them that the legalization question lies in the hands of voters — who, according to several polls taken in recent months, are expected to endorse the measure.

The passage of Initiative 71 would “still . . . not give us the justification for sales and commercialization of marijuana,” said Will Jones III, a D.C. resident who leads a group opposing the initiative.

But Orange and his colleagues were determined to start working out the logistics of creating a legitimate cannabis industry in Washington — even as they remain wary of potential congressional intervention, which could stamp out the legalization effort before it takes effect.

Testimony prepared by city financial officials pegged the potential size of the market at $130 million a year, based on an estimate of 122,000 users, including residents, commuters and tourists, each consuming three ounces of marijuana costing an average of $350 per ounce.

An initial version of a marijuana regulation bill before the …read more

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