This November District of Columbia voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to legalize cannabis for recreational use in the nation’s capital.
If passed, the measure — which gathered 27,688 signatures, exceeding the 22,600 required to qualify for the ballot — would give D.C. residents over 21 years old the right to possess up to two ounces of cannabis for personal use and to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. It would also allow residents the right to give away up to an ounce of marijuana to another adult without penalty. Buying or selling marijuana would stay illegal.
A poll taken earlier this year by the Washington Post showed 63 percent of D.C. residents support cannabis legalization. However, a vote at the general election in favor of legalizing cannabis could still face post-election resistance from Congress, which exerts unique oversight powers on the nation’s capital.
Congress has a history of acting as an impediment to change concerning cannabis legislation in D.C. The Post reports that in 1998 pro-cannabis activists in Washington gathered signatures to place a measure legalizing medical marijuana on the ballot, but Congress moved to stop city officials from counting the votes. After a court challenge allowed the votes to be counted — showing 69 percent support for the law — Congress continued to block funding to implement the program until 2009.
“This is the war on marijuana’s Waterloo,” says legalization advocate Adam Eidinger in a Bloomberg Business Week interview. “If we can pass it here in Washington, short of Congress overturning it, then the country really has changed.”
What do you think? Should cannabis be legalized in D.C.? Tell us in the comments below.