The District of Columbia Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to study the possible licensing of marijuana clubs as the U.S. capital nears its anniversary of legal pot.
The council also extended a temporary ban on smoking marijuana in private clubs until a task force can report on how the venues can be established.
The law that took effect in February 2015 allows adults to possess small amounts of marijuana and grow and consume it at home. Facing opposition from Congress, the District bans the sale of marijuana, but public smoking has become common as arrests have dried up.
"I think the time is right to consider communal use of marijuana," said Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who opposes restricting recreational marijuana consumption to homes.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have pushed for the permanent ban. They have faced opposition from proponents who argue that clubs would be part of implementing more fully the 2014 ballot initiative that legalized pot in Washington.
Marijuana use is banned under federal law, and proponents argue that people living in federal housing are prevented from smoking marijuana. Parents who do not want to consume pot in front of their children also need a place to smoke, they say.
Bowser's prohibition would forbid marijuana use anywhere outside a private residence. It authorizes the mayor to revoke the licenses of businesses that allow consumption on their property.
Besides the District of Columbia, the states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska have made pot lawful for recreational use.
(Reporting by Tom Ramstack; Editing by Ian Simpson and Peter Cooney)