Monday at 10 a.m., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will submit 58,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections at 441 4th Street NW Suite 250, in order to place Initiative 71 on the November ballot. The Board of Elections will have 30 days to verify that the campaign has the required 23,780 signatures to qualify.
Monday at 12 pm noon, members of the campaign will join D.C. elected officials on a national press teleconference to discuss the impact of the ballot initiative and the City Council's bill on overall marijuana arrest rates, issues surrounding racial justice, and the District's fight for self-determination.
D.C. hopes to follow in the steps of Colorado and Washington by legalizing marijuana and polls show the issue is popular among District residents, with support above 60 percent. The District of Columbia currently has the highest per capita marijuana arrest rates in the U.S. In 2010 black people in the District accounted for 91 percent of all marijuana arrests - even though black and white people use marijuana at roughly similar rates.
Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, and allows for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at home. District law prevents the ballot initiative from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the D.C. City Council is currently considering a bill which will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.
This initiative builds on the work of the D.C. City Council, which decriminalized marijuana this past spring. However, as data from numerous jurisdictions around the country indicate, decriminalization alone is not enough to change police practices. Colorado and Washington have seen precipitous declines in marijuana arrests since enacting legalization in 2012, saving these states millions in tax dollars, and, more importantly, eliminating the collateral consequences associated with arrests for marijuana possession.
An appropriations rider submitted by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) has the potential to threaten decriminalization and prevent District residents from voting on this issue. It was adopted by the US House Appropriations Committee at the end of June. If included in the 2015 budget, the rider would be an affront to the District's right to home rule, while ensuring that thousands of District residents continue to be arrested and suffer the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record. In response, district residents are organizing a boycott of Ocean City, part of Rep. Harris's district, as a show of their disapproval of Harris's intervention in D.C. Affairs.
WHAT: Press Teleconference: Initiative 71 and the legalization of marijuana in the Nation's Capital.
WHEN: Monday, July 7, at Noon ET
HOW: Contact Tony Newman for call-in info. (646) 335-5384
City Councilmember David Grosso, author of Marijuana Tax and Regulate Act of 2014
City Councilmember Tommy Wells (invited), author of Marijuana Decriminalization Act of 2014
City Councilmember Marion Barry (invited), former Mayor of D.C., Ward 8 Councilmember
Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager, Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
Adam Eidinger, Chair, DC Cannabis Campaign
Bill Piper (moderator), Director, Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance