PRESS RELEASE: DC Marijuana Initiative Supporters Announce Election Night Party

PRESS ADVISORY
8:00pm–11:30pm EST, Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CONTACT: ZACK PESAVENTO
(202) 420-1065
ZACK@DCMJ.ORG

DC Marijuana Initiative Supporters Announce Election Night Party

Proponents of Ballot Initiative 71, which legalizes the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia, will hold an election night party and fundraiser to benefit the DC Central Kitchen. Starting at 8:00pm on Tuesday, November 4, supporters of the “Yes on 71” campaign will gather at Meridian Pint to watch the election results.

Ballot Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, give (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults, and cultivate up to three mature marijuana plants at home. If successful, the bill will be transmitted to Congress for a mandatory review period after lawmakers convene again in January. Without interference, the bill’s provisions could go into effect as soon as April 2015.

WHO: Adam Eidinger, chair, DC Cannabis Campaign; Dr. Malik Burnett, vice-chair, DC Cannabis Campaign; Supporters of Ballot Initiative 71

WHAT: Election Night Fundraiser for DC Central Kitchen

WHERE: Meridian Pint, 3400 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

WHEN: Tuesday, November 4 from 8:00 PM to 11:30 PM EST

The DC Cannabis Campaign, Metropolitan Wellness Center, Drug Policy Alliance, Students For Sensible Drug Policy, DC Brau, DC Central Kitchen, Capital City Hydroponics, E.F.F.O.R.T.S. (Employment For Former Offenders Receiving Treatment Services) and Meridian Pint are partnering to support the election night fundraiser. Attendees will be encouraged to make a donation to DC Central Kitchen or bring a canned food item.

The DC Cannabis Campaign is the official campaign committee for Ballot Initiative 71. The campaign is a project of residents from across the District of Columbia, Drug Policy Action, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

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PRESS RELEASE: DC Cannabis Campaign Dismisses Obstruction Rumors on Initiative 71

PRESS RELEASE
October 20, 2014

CONTACT: ZACK PESAVENTO
(202) 420-1065
ZACK@DCMJ.ORG

DC Cannabis Campaign Dismisses
Obstruction Rumors on Initiative 71

Joint Public Hearing on October 30 to
Consider Complementary ‘Tax and Regulate’ Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — Supporters of Ballot Initiative 71 will speak at a Joint Public Hearing at the John A. Wilson Building on October 30 that is set to discuss a separate legislative proposal known as the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2014”. Although Ballot Initiative 71 would legalize the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia, it does not address the sale of marijuana due to existing restrictions on ballot measures. Advocates for the “Yes on 71” campaign will push back against reports that the DC Council might supplant the ballot initiative with its own legislation.

“There’s a natural complementarity to the two measures,” said Adam Eidinger, the chair of the DC Cannabis Campaign. “The ballot initiative will provide relief for private residents who continue to face fines and arrests under the current decriminalization regime, while the District Council’s legislation pursues the more complex task of taxing and regulating private businesses.”

A survey of likely voters in September showed 65% support for Ballot Initiative 71. The ballot initiative is subject to a 60-day congressional review period because it amends criminal law. The review period will need to begin once the 114th Congress is in session because the 113th Congress will not have enough time to satisfy the 60-day requirement following the November 4 election. If Congress does nothing, Ballot Initiative 71’s provisions will go into effect once the 60-day review period expires some time in the spring.

DC Cannabis Campaign officials are optimistic about the future of Ballot Initiative 71 following recent meetings with DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

“We expect the District Council to respect the will of the voters who want real marijuana reform,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, the vice chair of the DC Cannabis Campaign and D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. ”We feel confident that Ballot Initiative 71 will get a fair shot to pass unimpeded through Congress just like any other bill. Without interference, we could really see a sensible legalization policy go into effect this spring.”

The DC Cannabis Campaign is concerned that people of color continue to face disparities in the enforcement of penalties under the decriminalization law that went into effect on July 17. A Drug Policy Alliance review of records from the Metropolitan Police Department found that 77% of marijuana-related tickets have been issued in neighborhoods that are predominately home to people of color. White marijuana dealers were also found to be 20 times less likely to be arrested than black dealers in 2011 — the highest racial disparity of its kind in the nation.

Ballot Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, give (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults, and cultivate up to three mature marijuana plants at home.

The “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2014” would establish a regulatory structure that permits private businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana and marijuana-based products to adults in the District of Columbia. The legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember David Grosso, also creates a special fund to collect marijuana-related revenues for dedicated expenditures.

The District of Columbia’s Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hold a Joint Public Hearing at 11:00am EST on October 30 in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The DC Cannabis Campaign is the official campaign committee for Ballot Initiative 71. The campaign is a project of residents from across the District of Columbia, Drug Policy Action, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

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PRESS RELEASE: Ballot Initiative 71 Qualifies for November General Election Ballot

PRESS RELEASE
August 6, 2014

CONTACT: DR. MALIK BURNETT
(443) 821-0260 MBURNETT@DRUGPOLICY.ORG
TONY NEWMAN (646) 335-5384
TNEWMAN@DRUGPOLICY.ORG

Ballot Initiative 71 Qualifies for November General Election Ballot

LEGALIZATION ENDS DISCRIMINATION: YES On 71

First Jurisdiction to Legalize Marijuana in a Racial Justice context

WASHINGTON, DC — Today the D.C. Board of Elections ruled that Ballot Initiative 71 has enough valid signatures to qualify for November’s general election ballot. One month ago, the DC Cannabis Campaign submitted over 57,000 signatures from registered voters and needed 23,780 signatures to qualify.

The citizens of the District of Columbia hope 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. DC 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.

Ballot Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, allows adults to give (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults, and allows for the cultivation of up to three mature marijuana plants at home. District law prevents ballot initiatives from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the DC Council is currently considering a bill that will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.

The ballot initiative builds on the work of the DC 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 initiatives in 2012, saving these states millions in tax dollars, and, more importantly, eliminating the collateral consequences associated with arrests for marijuana possession.

“It is clear from the number of signatures the campaign was able to submit that the citizens of the district would like to have a say in reforming the marijuana laws of the District,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, Vice-Chair of the DC Cannabis Campaign and the DC Policy Manager for Drug Policy Action. “The policies of prohibition in the District have been borne on the backs of black and brown men for decades, by voting YES on 71, District residents can put an end to this failed policy.”

The announcement of legalization efforts come just two weeks after the implementation of DC’s decriminalization law, where preliminary data show that 77% of all tickets have been issued in communities of color. “It is great that we have decriminalized marijuana in the District of Columbia,” said Adam Eidinger, Chair of DC Cannabis Campaign, “Unfortunately, if we are going replace arrests with tickets, discrimination will continue, but voting YES on 71 eliminates the tickets and brings discrimination to an end.”

The DC Cannabis Campaign is the official campaign committee for Ballot Initiative 71. The campaign is a project of residents from across DC, the Drug Policy Action, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

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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/

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Press Release: DC Cannabis Campaign Calls On Mayor Gray To Issue Moratorium On Marijuana Arrests

PRESS RELEASE
March 4, 2014

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org

DC Cannabis Campaign Calls On Mayor Gray To Issue Moratorium On Marijuana Arrests

Congressional Review May Take Three Months and DC Residents Should Not Continue To Be Arrested

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the DC City Council passed the “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” (B20-0409). This historic legislation will reduce the criminal penalties associated with the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in the District of Columbia. Instead of facing arrest and potential jail time, citizens will have their marijuana and paraphernalia confiscated and will be issued a $25 ticket. Citizens caught smoking marijuana in public, possessing more than one ounce, or selling marijuana will still face criminal penalties and possible jail time.

After damning reports issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs showed that the District of Columbia leads America in the racial disparities for marijuana arrests, Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Marion Barry introduced “Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Act of 2013” on July 9, 2013. The legislation originally called for civil fines of $100 for possession and consumption of marijuana in public instead of arrest. At the first public hearing on October 23, 2013, witnesses suggested that the legislation be amended to reduce the civil fines to $25, similar to the current fine for the possession of an open container of alcohol in Washington, DC. At the second hearing on October 24, 2013, the Mayor’s office brought up their belief that the public consumption should remain illegal. To address these concerns, the legislation was further amended to keep the $100 fine for the public consumption of marijuana and make the fine $25 for the possession of marijuana. Lastly, in early February 2014, at the urging of Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, the legislation was further amended by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to remove the $100 civil fine and keep criminal penalties in place for the public consumption of marijuana.

“While we support the dramatic reduction in penalties associated with marijuana possession, this legislation will still allow the police to continue to hassle and arrest District residents who choose to smoke marijuana,” says Adam Eidinger, Chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, a political committee working on a District ballot imitative that will further reduce criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession and cultivation of marijuana. “We are organizing so voters have a say on whether marijuana should be fully legal this November.”

“Mayor Gray should issue a moratorium on arrests for the possession of marijuana while the legislation is under Congressional Review. How many more DC residents need to be arrested while we wait for Congress?” asks Eidinger. “This is a Home Rule issue now and the Mayor needs to side with the people.”

The DC Cannabis Campaign is currently waiting for the DC Board of Elections to approve the campaign’s ballot initiative language. Upon approval, the campaign will need to obtain more than 25,000 valid signatures from registered DC voters by July 7 in order to put the initiative on the general election ballot in November.

For more information about the DC Cannabis Campaign, visit www.DCMJ.org.

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Press Release: The DC Cannabis Campaign Prepares to Fight for Ballot Access

PRESS RELEASE
February 24, 2014

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org

The DC Cannabis Campaign Prepares to Fight for Ballot Access

Attorney General’s Analysis Won’t Hold Up in Court

WASHINGTON, DC – On February 25, 2014, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) will hold an administrative hearing on whether the DC Cannabis Campaign’s ballot initiative is fit to go before voters this November. Last week, DC Attorney General Irv Nathan released his analysis of the proposed ballot initiative and stated that his office was against the proposed legislation because he claims it violates federal law concerning the District’s ability to enforce federal housing laws. While the Attorney General’s opinion is not legally binding, if the DCBOEE sides with him, the DC Cannabis Campaign is prepared to take the DCBOEE to court to ensure voters have the opportunity to decide on this important matter November 4.

“The Attorney General’s legal analysis is just one legal theory designed to silence the will of the voters by attempting to throw out our ballot initiative,” says Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign.

“Under the proposed initiative, the District would be free to use the lease required by federal law and evict tenants who violate the terms of the lease, as well as regulate conduct made lawful by the initiative on property that it owns,” wrote attorney Joseph Sandler. “For that reason, there is absolutely no conflict between federal law and the proposed initiative.”

If the DCBOEE sides with the DC Cannabis Campaign and allows the ballot initiative to go forward, the DCBOEE will issue petitions for registered DC voters to sign. The Campaign will need to collect valid signatures from five percent of registered voters in DC, which amounts to nearly 24,000 valid signatures. In order to for the initiative to be put on the November general election ballot, the Campaign must submit the signatures by July 7.

“If the Board of Elections delays the initiative language approval, we’ll be forced to have a special election, which will cost the DC government nearly $1 million,” says Eidinger. “We’d much rather save the DC government the expense by allowing voters to decide the marijuana question during the general election.”

The DC Cannabis Campaign’s ballot initiative will permit District residents 21 and older to cultivate marijuana in their homes and allow residents to keep the marijuana grown at home for their personal use. The initiative does not permit the consumption of marijuana in public nor does it allow District residents to sell the marijuana they’ve grown. Furthermore, the initiative does not create a “Tax & Regulate” system similar to the successful ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington. The District’s Home Rule Charter does not allow District residents to create any taxing authority through the ballot box, but it does allow District residents to expand freedoms.

“Poll after poll has shown DC residents support legal marijuana. The DCBOEE should empower citizens to vote on this important issue,” concludes Eidinger.

Full text of the DC Cannabis Campaign’s ballot initiative can be viewed at www.DCMJ.org/ballot-initiative/.

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2014 Marijuana Legalization Initiative–Legal Analysis 2-19-14 (1)


DCMJ Letter to Ken McGhie 2 21 14 SENT

Press Release: DC Residents Submit Marijuana Voter Initiative For General Election

PRESS RELEASE
January 15, 2014

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org

DC Residents Submit Marijuana Voter Initiative For General Election

Passage Would Allow Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC – After soliciting comments from the public since October 2013 and working within the District of Columbia’s limited powers afforded to voter initiatives, the DC Cannabis Campaign submitted ballot initiative language on Friday, January 10, 2013. The campaign’s ballot initiative can be viewed at www.DCMJ.org

The proposed initiative is currently being reviewed by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics for legal completeness. The campaign anticipates a public hearing next month. Once approved, the campaign will need to gather over 23,000 signatures from registered voters of the District of Columbia by this summer in order to make it on to the general election ballot in November.

“We’ve listened to the public for three months and worked with stakeholders to submit the most workable language that enshrines marijuana consumer rights, including limited home cultivation,” says Adam Eidinger who submitted the initiative. “Our initiative will restore dignity to a whole group of people living in the shadows, who’ve had opportunities denied for simply using marijuana versus other legal even more dangerous substances.”

The Home Rule Act of the District of Columbia prohibits ballot initiatives from creating taxing authority, like those passed in Colorado and Washington, but the campaign believes that residents should not have to fear government repression for growing, consuming, and possessing marijuana in the privacy of their homes.

“Back in 1998, over 69% of District residents approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative that allowed the home cultivation of cannabis, but in 2010 the Council removed this right,” says Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We want to return this right back to the people.”

“Mayoral candidate and current Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells decriminalization of marijuana legislation is a good start for fixing DC’s unjust marijuana laws, “ says Piper. “The next step is allowing DC residents to grow their own supply of marijuana so they are not reliant on the illicit market. Ultimately, the city should tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

When marijuana possession in DC is decriminalized this Spring, home cultivation will not be permitted and will remain a criminal offense. The campaign’s ballot initiative seeks to change this and allow individuals to grow up to six plants inside their homes and a maximum of 12 plants in a residence.

“We allow people to brew beer at home, so why shouldn’t we allow District residents the freedom to grow a few marijuana plants?” asks Eidinger.
For more information visit http://DCMJ.org

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