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Among D.C. Council candidates in this year’s elections, who would you want to vote on pot policy? If you’re asking yourself that question—particularly after the current Council approved, 7-6, a permanent ban on “cannabis clubs” last month—the Marijuana Policy Project has a new tool that could help you decide in the Democratic primary on June 14 and the general election in November.
The group has compiled a voter guide that assigns Council candidates a grade based on their records on decriminalization/legalization and their responses to asurvey MPP recently sent out. Seven received an A or A+, while three (all incumbents aligned with Mayor Muriel Bowser) received a D or below. MPP considered almost 20 candidates.
“We talk a lot about how we are disenfranchised in Congress, but D.C. residents still have an opportunity to influence who represents us at the local level, and here our votes count for a lot.” MPP Legislative Analyst Kate Bell says in a statement. “That’s because the council only has 13 members, compared with the more than 100 members in most states’ legislatures, and because some of these races may be very close. We hope our guide helps inform and engage D.C. residents and inspires them to get out and vote on June 14.”
Among the close races MPP highlights is the Ward 8 contest between Councilmember LaRuby May and hopeful Trayon White. That special election was decided by fewer than 100 votes. Nevertheless, marijuana policy likely won’t sway many voters in the At-Large Council race, say, where incumbent Vincent Orange leads by a huge margin—according to a new poll—and where MPP scored all three candidates favorably. (Orange is running against Robert White and David Garber.)
MPP docked candidates points for voting to ban pot clubs, which included May, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, and Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd. Todd was the only candidate to receive an F. He “has consistently voted in favor of the social use ban,” the guide says. “Yet, he agreed to serve as one of two councilmembers on a task force to study the issue. He did not attend either the community forum to provide feedback on the task force or the first task force meeting. He was not on the Council when decriminalization passed and did not respond to the candidate survey.”
Here’s how the candidates stacked up, according to MPP:
You can read the guide here.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery; screenshot via MPP