October 20, 2014
CONTACT: ZACK PESAVENTO
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.