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District of Columbia

According to a new PPP poll for the Marijuana Policy Project, the people of Washington D.C. overwhelming support marijuana legalization.

If a legalization initiative, like the ones on the ballot last year in Colorado and Washington State, was to be placed on the ballot in the District it would be supported by 63 percent of D.C. voters. The poll found only 30 percent of District residents would oppose it.

The poll found even greater support for taking the smaller step of decriminalizing marijuana in the city. An incredible 75 percent of District voters would support dropping the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to just a civil violation resulting in a $100 ticket. Only 21 percent of voters would oppose this change. Currently, marijuana possession is punishable with up to six months in jail.

The District is both younger and significantly more liberal than the rest of the country. Marijuana reform polls very well and D.C. law allows for ballot initiatives. These four factors should make it the top target for a marijuana reform initiative next year but there is one huge possible legal issue – Congress.

Congress technically still has the ability to override any laws in the nation’s capital and occasionally does. For example in 1998 District residents approved a medical marijuana initiative but Congress prevented the District from implementing that law for two decades.

This created a real dilemma for the marijuana reform movement. Even though the voters of D.C. are ready to fully legalize marijuana, it may politically make more sense to only push for decriminalization in the near future. While Congress might feel compelled to act against legalization in their own backyard, they are less likely to interfere with decriminalization.

Photo by Mr. T in DC released under Creative Commons License