The DC Board of Elections is notoriously slow when it comes to counting ballots, but all it takes are the results from the 25,750 early votes cast over the past two weeks to light up the DC Cannabis Campaign’s party as they wait to find out the fate of their Initiative 71, the ballot question that, if approved by voters, will legalize marijuana possession and cultivation for adults 21 and older.
With 64 percent of early votes supporting legalization, the basement of Columbia Heights bar Meridian Pint is clogged with drug reform activists clinking beers and dancing to a live deejay. Supporters expect the gap to tighten—an anti-legalization campaign never really caught on—but everyone in the room expects the District will soon join Colorado and Washington state in ending pot prohibition.
“I have been healthy all year, today I caught a cold,” says Adam Eidinger, the leader of the Initiative 71 push.
Any ballot initiative passed by the District’s voters is still subject to the same congressional review as any other bit of DC law, which could hit a snag if Republicans take control of the US Senate. But even if the Senate, which earlier this year blocked a Republican-passed attempt to gut DC’s new decriminalization law, flips parties, Eidinger thinks he won an ally today in Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. Paul, speaking to BuzzFeed while he voted today, said he doesn’t think Congress should stop the District from legalizing marijuana or passing any other law.
“I want to thank Rand Paul for respecting local laws, whether it be here in DC or in Kentucky,” says Eidinger. “I don’t think any party has the stomach to overturn any election.”
But weed won’t become legal overnight. Though it’s quite plausible someone at Meridian Pint is holding, Eidinger doesn’t want to see it at the bar.
“We told everyone if you’re going to celebrate with cannabis, do it at home,” he says.
Eidinger includes himself in that edict: “When I get home, I’m going to smoke a joint.”
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.