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DC Will Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

Pro-pot activists collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot.
Photograph via Shutterstock.

District residents will get to decide in November whether the nation’s capital will become the latest jurisdiction to legalize marijuana, the city’s Board of Elections said Wednesday when it ruled that backers of a pro-pot initiative gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

The board said that of nearly 57,000 signatures delivered last month by the DC Cannabis Campaign, 27,688 were ruled valid. DC election law requires ballot petitions to gather at least 22,375 signatures, or 5 percent of registered voters, with at least 5 percent of all voters in five of the city’s eight wards signing their names.

The District’s marijuana decriminalization law went into effect last month, making possession of one ounce or less punishable by a $25 civil fine rather than an arrest and criminal charges. The ballot initiative approved today would make possession or use of up to two ounces legal, along with home cultivation of as many as six cannabis plants. People would be permitted to share their leafy products with one another, but without payment. Initiative 71—as it will appear on ballots this November—does not address commercial marijuana production similar to what Colorado and Washington state have embraced, although there is legislation in the DC Council addressing that.

Still, this legalization initiative is all but guaranteed to pass; a Washington Post poll earlier this year found that 63 percent of DC’s registered voters support legal pot.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.