9 July 2016

The Department of Health released a report detailing the state of cannabis in Washington D.C. since Initiative 71 took effect, which allows residents to consume and grow cannabis. According to the Washington City Paper, the authors of the report went into detail about the demographics of cannabis, including both the short-term and long-term effects of using cannabis, as well as information on cannabis-related arrests.

The report, entitled “Marijuana in the District of Columbia,” is comprised of a number of sources, including “behavioral risk factor” surveillance from 2011 to 2013, information from the District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Metropolitan Police Department. With extensive data, the report identifies some crucial notes about cannabis in the city, including cannabis being one of the most common substances that impair drivers involved in fatal collisions (falling behind alcohol by a short margin), and also found that African Americans were found to have the highest percentage of cannabis-related arrests. It also mentions cannabis and its relation to heart disease, cancer and mental health, as well as important notes on how cannabis can effect fetal and infant development.

The Department of Health ended the report with a recommendation to tax the production, distribution and sale of cannabis in an effort to help city residents. The report further added that it would benefit the city to establish age restrictions, ban advertising and marketing to minors and develop an education program to properly inform residents about cannabis and its effects.

“In order to better ensure public safety, more research needs to be done regarding health effects. Additionally, health-related information should be better distributed to the public . . .” Currently, the District is at the forefront of cities in the nation on marijuana policy, and only time will tell if the District is on the right side of history in legalizing marijuana.”

According to a poll taken by the Drug Policy Alliance earlier this year, 66 percent of voters also think that the Mayor of D.C. should implement cannabis taxes and regulation.