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Marijuana wouldn’t just be legal if voters have their way in D.C.—selling it, in small quantities, would also be legal, and the city would derive tax revenue from it.
So says the new Washington City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll, which found a solid majority of likely voters plan to back Initiative 71, which would legalize the drug in D.C., and a plurality support additional changes to the law that would allow legal sales afterwards.
But organizers of the legalization campaign are aiming for more. The D.C. Cannabis Campaign doesn’t just want the initiative to pass; it wants it to pass with at least 75 percent of the vote.
“That’s what we are going for,” says Adam Eidinger, the chair of the group responsible for getting the initiative on the ballot. “I don’t want this to be divisive.”
That seems optimistic, according to the poll, which found 52 percent of likely voters in favor of the initiative, with 35 percent against. Thirteen percent of voters are still undecided, according to the poll.
The poll shows 50 percent of Muriel Bowser’s supporters are in favor of the initiative, while 58 percent of David Catania’s voters support it. (The poll also has Bowser leading Catania by 17 percent.) The D.C. Cannabis Campaign isn’t endorsing a mayoral candidate this election, because, Eidinger says, both leading candidates have been champions of the cause, and he thinks either of them will be able to successfully implement the new law as mayor. For attorney general, Eidinger says the campaign is pushing for Paul Zukerberg—who has made his name as a lawyer defending people accused of marijuana-related crimes and trying to reform marijuana laws. About two-thirds of Zukerberg’s voters also support the initiative, though Zukerberg trails three of his four competitors in the poll.
The initiative has the least support among older voters. About 40 percent of voters over the age of 65 support legalization, compared to nearly 60 percent support from voters between the ages of 30 and 45. Eidinger says this age gap was expected, and the campaign has largely focused on ensuring it has support in all eight wards. The initiative has the most support in Ward 3 and the least in Ward 8—though more than 40 percent of Ward 8 respondents do support it.
If the initiative passes, the Council could still face some decisions about pot. The initiative says residents could legally possess up to two ounces and grow up to six plants, but it doesn’t say anything about selling or purchasing marijuana. For our poll, we asked about some possible scenarios. Forty-three percent of likely voters think selling less than an ounce should be allowed and it should be taxed. Twelve percent think selling any amount of marijuana should be allowed, and 25 percent of voters say only possession should be legal, not selling.
Don’t expect the legalization campaign to take “yes” for an answer, though, without trying to get the Council to take further action. “Do we restrict how much liquor can be allowed?” Eidinger asks. “We don’t count the wine in wine cellars.”
Photo by Hupu2 via Wikimedia Commons