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DC Residents Set to 'Catch A Spliff' as Washington Rolls Out Weed Scheme

  • Gibbs Dube

Legalization of pot comes to America’s capital, Washington DC, Thursday though smokers will not catch a spliff in public and be allowed to sell marijuana.

An adult person in DC is expected to grow six plants, with no more than three mature at a given time. Some states like Colorado have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.

The District of Columbia faces various legal challenges with Congress still trying to block the legalization of pot, which according to medical experts cures some diseases like glaucoma and fits.

Zimbabweans have weighed in on the legalization of marijuana in America, saying such moves can devastate Zimbabwe if the country decriminalizes the use of mbanje.

For perspective, Studio 7’s Gibbs Dube spoke to Mkhululi Ndabambi, a Zimbabwean living in Indiana, USA, and Reverend Josias Mudenda of the Methodist Church and also a member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

Ndabambi said some American states’ move to legalize marijuana is a way of promoting people’s rights.

“It’s a way America has been going with being liberal in people’s lives as we see recently most states are legalizing same sex marriage,” said Ndabambi.

Reverend Mudenda said it is unlikely that Zimbabwe will in the near future relax laws relating to the use of marijuana for various purposes.

“I don’t think it is the right thing for society to delve into it bearing into mind the consequences of taking that weed. The legalization of it would be tearing the social fabric in a way because when one takes that weed definitely it affects even mental faculties,” he said.

The new law, which voters passed in a referendum last November, took effect shortly after midnight local time Thursday.

The U.S. capital city joins Alaska, Colorado and the state of Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. But unlike the three other states, Washington, D.C. is not completely autonomous, as the U.S. Congress has final authority over the city government.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who chairs House Oversight Committee, warned D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that she and other city officials could go to jail for implementing the law.

But Bowser ignored Chaffetz's threat Wednesday when she said the measure would take effect as planned. "Bullying the District of Columbia is not what his [Chaffetz] constituents expect, nor do ours," she told reporters. "We do disagree on a matter of law. There are reasonable ways to resolve this without us threatening him or he us."

A spending bill passed in December by the House did not include funds for the city to implement the marijuana law.

City officials contend voters passed the law a month before Congress approved the spending bill.

Legal experts from both the city and Congress say it is highly unlikely the mayor or anyone else would be jailed over the new law. But there are other punitive measures Congress could take against the city.

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