The D.C. Board of Elections has officially certified Ballot Initiative 71 for November’s general election. If passed by a majority of D.C. voters, Initiative 71 will repeal all criminal and civil penalties for the personal possession and limited, private cultivation of marijuana. Passage of this initiative will be yet another step towards sensible marijuana policies in our nation’s capital, so make sure your voter registration is current if you are a D.C. resident so you can vote “yes” on November 4.
But Jon Walker reminds everyone that, “Even if the voters approve the initiative, it is possible for Congress to overturn it, similar to what they did to the district’s medical marijuana initiative in 1998”:
[T]he initiative would only legalize possession of up to two ounces for adults over 21 and limited home growing. Due to the unusual rules governing the D.C. initiative process, the campaign was not able to include provisions for the regulated and taxed sale of marijuana. Allowing adult use sales will still take an act of the D.C. Council, but several members of the Council plan to move forward with a bill if the voters support this initiative.
Assuming our politicians don’t interfere, the district should soon legalize marijuana. A Washington Post poll found 63 percent of registered voters in D.C. support legalization.
Should the initiative pass, Abby Haglage wonders, “Will Congress be allowed to get stoned?”
The short answer is—yes. If passed, Initiative 71 will allow D.C. residents above the age of 21 to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home, and transfer, not sell, up to 1 ounce. Assuming that members of Congress who live in D.C. are adults, they, too, will be permitted to get stoned at their leisure.
But don’t start dreaming of hot-boxing the Capitol. “This initiative changes D.C. law,” says Bill Piper, the director of public affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana possession would still be illegal on federal property.” Until cannabis is removed from the Schedule I substance list, it will not be allowed on federal property. So, members of Congress couldn’t light up at work—but they could if they live in the district.