Press Release: DC Cannabis Campaign Collects Over 57,000 Signatures to Place Initiative #71 on General Election Ballot

PRESS RELEASE
June 30, 2014

CONTACT: DR. MALIK BURNETT
(443) 821-0260 MBURNETT@DRUGPOLICY.ORG
ADAM EIDINGER (202)744-2671
ADAM@DCMJ.ORG

DC Cannabis Campaign Collects Over 57,000 Signatures to Place Initiative #71
on General Election Ballot

Members of Congress May Take Away
DC Voter’s Right to Vote on Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC — In less than 75 days, the DC Cannabis Campaign has collected more than twice the number signatures required to place Initiative 71 on November’s General Election ballot. However, the Campaign is alarmed that members of Congress may prevent District voters from being able to vote on the ballot initiative due to policy riders that were added to the District of Columbia’s 2015 appropriation budget.

“We are proud of our petition circulators who braved the heat to further democracy in the District of Columbia,” said Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger, “but I am very concerned that members of Congress will use their power to stop District of Columbia voters from being able to fully participate in the democratic process. We deserve the right to vote on Initiative 71.”

With the citizens of Colorado and Washington state voting to legalize marijuana in 2012, the Campaign believes that voters of the District of Columbia should be afforded the same right to vote on marijuana legalization. The appropriations rider introduced by Congressman Andy Harris (R, MD-1) on June 25, 2014 could prevent the District of Columbia Board of Elections from using its funds to print the ballots that include Initiative #71. Worse, the policy rider may impede the District of Columbia’s decriminalization of marijuana law set to take effect mid-July and prevent any changes to the District’s medical marijuana program.

“Petition circulators are the unsung heroes of democracy across America,” says Eidinger. Throughout the last two months the Campaign enlisted over 250 volunteer and paid petition circulators to canvass the District of Columbia. Proposers of ballot initiatives in the District of Columbia are allowed 180 days to circulate petitions, but in order for Initiative #71 to qualify for November’s general election ballot, the Campaign was afforded only 76 days to circulate petitions.

After the circulating petitions are submitted to the DC Board of Elections on Monday, July 7, they will be reviewed by the agency’s staff to ensure the Campaign collected at least 22,373 valid signatures from registered DC voters. Once certified by the Board of Elections, and as long as the Congressional policy riders are removed, District of Columbia voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject the Initiative #71 on November 4, 2014.

“The decision of House Republicans in the Appropriations Committee to prevent the ballot initiative from going forward is an affront to the core of Republican belief against big government interfering in the lives of citizens,” says Dr. Malik Burnett, the DC Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “By attempting to keep in place the criminal penalties for possession of marijuana, Congress is saying that they want more people of color to go to jail.”

The District of Columbia has the highest per capita, marijuana arrest rates for people of color in America. Although studies show that both white and black people of the District of Columbia use marijuana equally, people of color are disproportionately arrested and subject to all the collateral consequences a criminal record creates. The aim of the Campaign’s ballot initiative is to expand freedoms to District citizens and to help end the discrimination affecting all marijuana users.

The Campaign will submit over 57,000 signatures at 10am on Monday, July 7 at the DC Board of Elections, 441 4th St. NW, Room 250N. Members of the Campaign will be available for interview at the Board of Elections. The campaign will be honoring its petition circulators from 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday, July 1 at Patty Boom Boom, located at 1359 U Street NW. The text of the ballot initiative can be found at http://www.DCMJ.org/ballot-initiative/

###

Washington Post: Odds are increasing that D.C. will vote on legalizing marijuana — despite Congress

“Sixteen years ago, D.C. activists gathered signatures to let voters decide if the District should be among the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Then Congress stepped in, and city officials were not even allowed to count the ballots that voters had cast.

Inside a rented house in Northwest Washington, behind a shaggy bear skin rug strung up as a makeshift curtain and amid rollaway beds set up for signature gatherers who have come from as far away as California and Colorado, there’s growing anxiety that history is about to repeat itself.

Organizers for Initiative 71, a measure that would fully legalize possession of marijuana in the District, plan to announce this week that they are closing in on 60,000 signatures — a comfortable buffer over the 22,600 needed to ensure the measure qualifies for the November ballot.”

Continue Reading…


SOURCE: Aaron Davis, The Washington Post

You Have 1 Week Left To Sign Our Petition!

The DC Cannabis Campaign has entered the home stretch in our circulating petition effort. So far we’ve collected over 45,000 signatures from DC voters, but we still haven’t reached our goal of 70,000 signatures. We hope you will help us reach that goal in the next week. So if you see a petition circulator in your neighborhood, please sign their petition!


Here are some answers to common questions people have asked the campaign’s petition circulators:

Q: I work for the government, can I sign the petition?
A: YES! Since the ballot initiative is non-partisan, you will not violate the Hatch Act as long as you sign when you are not working. This means if you see a petition circulator this evening while you are walking home after work, it’s your constitutional right to sign the petition. The campaign’s collected signatures from off-duty police officers, federal government employees with top secret security clearances, members of the military, congressional staffers, and even DC Councilmembers. As long as you are not “on the clock,” you should feel comfortable signing our circulating petition.

Q: If I sign this, am I going to be put on some government list?
A: NO! Your signature, address, printed name, date, and the ward you live in are not transcribed by any government agency. This personal information is required for the DC Board of Elections to verify that you are a qualified registered voter in the District of Columbia.

Q: Isn’t marijuana already legal?
A: NO! Unless you are one of the few DC medical marijuana patients, marijuana is still illegal to possess, consume, and cultivate in the District of Columbia. The DC marijuana decriminalization law does not take effect until mid-July and when it does, marijuana will still be illegal. Decriminalization simply removes the criminal penalties for marijuana, but if you are caught with marijuana the police will still take it from you, but instead of going to jail, you’ll get a $25 fine. Under Initiative 71, there will be no fine for possessing up to 2 ounces and you’ll be allowed grow a few plants at home.

Q: After marijuana is legalized, will I be able to walk down the street and smoke a joint?
A: NO! Although beer is legal, can you walk down the street drinking a beer? Nope. Our goal was to treat marijuana like alcohol, so with that treatment comes similar rules. You will be able to consume marijuana at home or at establishments that allow it- just like beer.

Q: I already signed the petition, can I sign it again?
A: NO! You only need to sign the petition once. If you really care about signing it again & again, maybe you should consider volunteering with the campaign so that you can get your friends and neighbors to sign.

Q: Now that I signed, what’s next?
A: The campaign will be turning in all the circulating petitions on Monday, July 7. The DC Board of Elections will review the circulating petitions to ensure that the campaign reached the signature threshold. Once the petitions are verified, ballot initiative #71 will be placed on the November 4 general election ballot and you will be given the option of voting YES or NO. We hope you vote YES!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARIJUANA IN WASHINGTON, DC

Welcome to DCMJ.org, the digital home of the DC Cannabis Campaign!

Got questions about the status of marijuana in Washington, DC? Here’s the latest:

  • Possession of marijuana is NOT LEGAL in Washington, DC
  • The decriminalization of marijuana possession legislation passed the DC City Council on March 4, 2014 but will not become law until it has been reviewed by Congress for 60 legislative days (we anticipate approval by late-July!)
  • Medical marijuana IS LEGAL in Washington, DC but for only registered patients with approved medical conditions: AIDS/HIV, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis

The DC Cannabis Campaign’s Ballot Initiative will allow DC residents 21 and older the right to:

  • Possess up to two ounces of marijuana outside one’s home
  • Grow up to 3 mature marijuana plants inside one’s home
  • Allows growers to keep all the marijuana grown at home
  • Does not allow anyone to sell marijuana (DC rules prevent us from putting this question in the ballot)

The DC Board of Elections gave the DC Cannabis Campaign the official circulating petitions on April 23 and the Campaign is currently collecting signatures from registered DC voters. The Campaign has until the first week of July to collect over 22,373 valid signatures in order to put the initiative on the ballot in November’s General Election.

Interested in helping? Please volunteer with the DC Cannabis Campaign!