Marijuana activists gather over 57,000 signatures in favor of legalization
Last January, a Washington Post poll found that 63 percent of D.C. residents were in favor of legalizing marijuana, with only 34 percent opposed. On Monday, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign took one big step towards aligning city law with the will of the people. The group presented a petition with more than 57,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections, hoping to have the issue of marijuana legalization put on the November ballot.
If more than 22,373 of the signatures are ruled as legitimate, then the city’s voters will be deciding on the matter this fall. D.C. Cannabis Campaign Chief Adam Eidinger said in an interview with DCist that “more than 50 percent” of the signatures are valid, which, if true, would safely guarantee legalization a spot on the ballot.
If voters choose to legalize marijuana this November, up to two ounces of bud will be permitted for personal use, as well as up to three mature cannabis plants.
This news comes right on the heels of a setback for marijuana activists in Washington. Maryland Representative Andy Harris’s amendment to block the implementation of D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization bill passed in the House Appropriations Committee on July 25.
The decriminalization bill, which sought to reduce the racial disparity in marijuana arrests in D.C. by recategorizing possession of the drug as a minor violation rather than a misdemeanor, is now dead. Metropolitan Police Department data shows that between 2005 and 2011, 91 percent of those arrested for marijuana in D.C. were black—despite the fact that white and black residents used the drug at similar rates.
Harris’s amendment could be revoked by the House, the Senate, or President Obama, but for now, having a joint in your pocket remains a crime.
Etinger hopes that the results of the vote on legalization aren’t interfered with by the federal government like the decriminalization bill was.
“You know what countries overturn elections? China and Russia. Are we going to do this to the people that live in the capital of the United States?” Etinger said, according to DCist.
Photo: Mark via Flickr