The DC Cannabis Campaign was created by frustrated residents of the District of Columbia who were tired of the outdated marijuana laws. If you support changing the marijuana laws in DC, please signup to our email list so we can pass Ballot Initiative #71 on November 4.
In April of 2013, DCMJ hired a resident to stand outside of the DC 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. While this legislation ends most of the arrests for the possession of marijuana in DC, it does not address the supply side of the equation— where is the marijuana coming from? How can DC residents safely access marijuana without going through drug dealers?
On July 26, 2013, the DC Cannabis Campaign was formally organized and shortly thereafter we submitted our first draft of our ballot initiative to the DC Board of Elections. The DC Cannabis Campaign believes that the decriminalization of marijuana is only a partial remedy to the problem of the outdated marijuana laws. It stops the arrests, but thats about it. Unlike the decriminalization of marijuana legislation, the DC Cannabis Campaign’s first ballot initiative sought to legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana plants at home as well as provide drug education to youths caught with marijuana.
After the DC Board of Elections hearing in September 2013, we withdrew our original ballot initiative because we discovered that it required the DC government to allocate funds for drug education for youths and the Board of Elections would not permit the initiative on the ballot. Unlike other states, the District’s ballot initiative process prohibits initiatives from appropriating any money. 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 signatures from DC voters by July 7 in order to put the measure on November’s general election ballot.
On July 7, 2014 the DC Cannabis Campaign submitted nearly 57,000 signatures to the DC Board of Elections. And finally, on August 6, 2014, the DC Board of Elections certified that the DC Cannabis Campaign had collected enough valid signatures to put Ballot Initiative 71 on the November 4 ballot.
We hope you will vote “FOR” Ballot Initiative 71!
Legalization Vs. Decriminalization
Decriminalization is a grey area. Under “decrim,” marijuana is not legal nor is it criminal. Decrim addresses the need for law enforcement officials to refrain from arresting District residents for possessing marijuana, but it doesn’t provide any means for citizens to safely purchase or cultivate marijuana. Under decrim the police can still harass citizens and instead of arresting them, the police will issue a $25 ticket and take the person’s marijuana. We think decrim is an impractical political compromise that treats marijuana users as second-class citizens and prevents the government collecting any tax revenue from the legal sale of marijuana. Under decrim, the underground economy continues to thrive.
Legalization means no more games with marijuana. It benefits communities by removing a top source of funding for gang activity. As shown in Colorado and Washington state, legalization can provide new streams of revenue for governments. Under our ballot initiative, instead of $25 ticket and confiscation of your marijuana, you’ll be able to keep up to 2 ounces on you without fear of arrest. Residents will also be able to grow 3 mature and 3 immature marijuana plants in the safety and privacy of their homes and keep all the marijuana that comes from those plants. Residents will be able to give their marijuana to other adults, but will not be permitted to sell their marijuana to anyone. Since we can’t address the sale of marijuana through a ballot initiative, we only can vote to increase the freedoms we enjoy as citizens.
By passing our ballot initiative on November 4, we hope to provide the DC Council the political cover to pass legislation that will tax & regulate marijuana for adults.