DCMJ was created in the Spring of 2013 by frustrated residents of the District of Columbia who were tired of outdated marijuana laws. In July 2013 DCMJ transitioned to the DC Cannabis Campaign in order to pass Ballot Initiative 71 and in the Spring of 2015, converted back to DCMJ, a community group fighting for equal rights for DC cannabis users, growers, and their families.
In April of 2013, DCMJ hired a DC resident to stand outside of the courthouse and collect contact information from residents who shared our view that the District’s marijuana laws need to be changed. Over the next few months, we collected thousands of email addresses and began our effort to change the marijuana laws in DC.
In June of 2013, the ACLU issued a report highlighting the billions of dollars wasted on racially biased arrests. This report, along with the Washington Lawyers Committee report, highlighted the need to end the marijuana arrests in Washington, DC. The incremental step toward this goal was the introduction of the legislation titled “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013” by DC council members Tommy Wells and Marion Barry on July 10, 2013 and became law on July 17, 2014.
On July 26, 2013, the DC Cannabis Campaign was formally organized as a political campaign committee with the DC Office of Campaign Finance and used DCMJ.org as the campaign’s official website. Shortly after forming the political campaign committee, we submitted our first draft of our ballot initiative to the DC Board of Elections.
On September 5, 2013, we withdrew our first ballot initiative because it required the DC government to allocate funds for drug education for youths. The Board of Elections would not permit the initiative to go forward unless that section was removed. Unlike other states, the District’s ballot initiative process prohibits initiatives from appropriating any money to enforce the law. This makes it impossible for us to introduce a “tax & regulate” ballot initiative like those passed in Colorado and Washington state in 2012. Only the DC Council can introduce legislation that taxes and regulates marijuana.
In October 2013, we posted our updated second draft of our ballot initiative here on this website and solicited responses from the community. After being online for nearly 3 months, on January 10, 2014 we submitted our final ballot initiative language to the DC Board of Elections.
After a hearing in February and a second hearing in March, on April 23, 2014, the DC Board of Elections issued the DC Cannabis Campaign the official circulating petitions, which required the campaign to collect 22,373 valid signatures from DC voters by July 7, 2014 in order to put the measure on November 2014 general election ballot.
On July 7, 2014 the DC Cannabis Campaign submitted nearly 57,000 signatures to the DC Board of Election and after a month of review, on August 6, 2014, the DC Board of Elections certified that the campaign had collected enough valid signatures to qualify Ballot Initiative 71.
On November 4, 2014, Ballot Initiative 71 was enacted (115,050 to 49,168) with 70% of the vote! The final vote tally was certified by the DC Board of Elections on December 3, 2014. Finally, the ballot initiative was transferred to the 114th Congress in January 2015 for a 30 legislative-day review period and became law at 12:01am, Thursday, February 26, 2015.
After organizing two seed shares in March and a 6-day DC Democracy Vigil on the National Mall in April, the DC Cannabis Campaign began winding down it’s campaign activities and is in the process of transitioning back to DCMJ. We will continue to need your support to help keep the pressure on members of Congress in order to ensure Ballot Initiative 71 remains law! Please sign up for our email list to stay up to date on the latest from DCMJ.