It’s official: marijuana legalization will be on the local ballot in Washington, D.C. this November. On Wednesday the D.C. Board of Elections ruled that Initiative 71 had enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. In a very short time frame, the DCMJ campaign managed to gather well over the number of signatures necessary.
First, due to the extremely unfair rules governing the district, Congress has the ability to override any local law approved in the district despite the fact that the citizens of D.C. are denied any representation in Congress. Even if the voters approve the initiative, it is possible for Congress to overturn it, similar to what they did to the district’s medical marijuana initiative in 1998. Already there is one member of Congress, Andy Harris (R-MD), who is leading an effort to do just that.
Second, the initiative would only legalize possession of up to two ounces for adults over 21 and limited home growing. Due to the unusual rules governing the D.C. initiative process, the campaign was not able to include provisions for the regulated and taxed sale of marijuana. Allowing adult use sales will still take an act of the D.C. Council, but several members of the Council plan to move forward with a bill if the voters support this initiative.
Assuming our politicians don’t interfere, the district should soon legalize marijuana. A Washington Post poll found 63 percent of registered voters in D.C. support legalization.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy