An effort to legalize the limited possession and growth of marijuana in the nation’s capital has overcoming a significant legal hurdle Tuesday. After lengthy deliberation the District of Columbia Board of Elections ruled the initiative was a “proper subject” under the rules governing D.C.’s initiative process. From the board:
The District of Columbia Board of Elections (DCBOE) today released a memorandum opinion and order on the proposed initiative measure, “Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014.” Board members approved the measure sponsored by the DC Cannabis Campaign after finding that it presented a proper subject for initiative under District of Columbia law.
A ballot initiative is considered a proper subject if it does not appropriate funds, violate the Home Rule Charter, negate a Budget Act, or violate the Human Rights Act. In approving or rejecting a ballot initiative, the Board may only consider whether the measure meets these requirements.
This clears the way for the DCMJ to eventually begin gathering the roughly 25,000 valid signatures need to qualify for the ballot, which is not a easy task given the limited time frame.
The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounce of marijuana and grow up to three mature plants at home. The measure doesn’t legalize the sale of marijuana because adding a retail provision risked running afoul of the local rules governing what can be in an initiative. As a result it falls somewhere between extreme decriminalization and full legalization.
If the initiative makes it on the ballot, it would need to be approved by the voters and not overturned by Congress. Despite the residents of D.C. having no representation in the federal legislature, Congress has the power to overturn every local law approved in the district.
A Washington Post poll from two months ago found 63 percent of D.C. residents support marijuana legalization.
Photo by Elvert Barnes under Creative Commons license