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In less than two days, private marijuana use and cultivation will be legal in the District. But if you’re itching to launch the Copacabana of marijuana nightclubs, think again. With marijuana set to be legal at 12 a.m. Thursday, Muriel Bowser has moved to ban private marijuana nightclubs.

Initiative 71, the legalization measure that was approved in November, doesn’t change the legality of smoking on public land or in most businesses, which are open to the public. But Bowser fears that a club that closes itself to the public by charging a membership fee could get around the restriction on “public” marijuana smoking. At breakfast this morning with District councilmembers, Bowser said she’d introduce legislation to forbid ban pot smoking at private clubs.

Bowser’s legislation doesn’t appear to apply to the floated idea of Dallas Buyer’s Club-style pot sharing clubs, the legality of which is still unclear. Under this scheme, meant to skirt restrictions on selling marijuana, would-be marijuana users would pay a membership fee to an organization that would then “give them” marijuana. So far, no one has proposed starting such a group to “share” drugs.

Smokey clubs aren’t the only issues the District is taking up in the city’s final hours of prohibition. The District has published a four-page document explaining the new law and created a Initiative 71 task force to monitor implementation. Metropolitan Police Department officers are being trained in a variety of scenarios they’ll encounter under the law, according to Chief Cathy Lanier. For example, if three people are in a home, they’re allowed to have six ounces of marijuana, instead of just the two ounces permitted per person.

“It’s not as complicated as it seems,” Lanier said.

Despite all the preparation, though, it’s still unclear how much congressional Republicans will interefere with the law after legalization.

“There are not a lot of people interested in this,” Bowser said of Congress. “But the one or two that are are causing the problem.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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