Washingtonians who want to enjoy legal pot can finally put their names behind it. After months of wrangling, the District of Columbia Board of Elections issued petitions this morning that could put legalized marijuana on the November ballot.
The initiative, organized by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and backed by a $20,000 donation from California soap tycoon David Bronner, would legalize the possession of two ounces of marijuana outside a home and the cultivation of three mature marijuana plants.
Now that they have their petitions, activists have to collect 22,373 signatures. If they turn in the petitions in July, the initiative will be on the November ballot. Otherwise, they have until October to turn in petitions for some future special election.
The campaign has already started phone-banking using numbers collected outside polling places and Superior Court, a plan Cannabis Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger said he hatched after visiting a phone bank for Ward 1 Democratic candidate Brianne Nadeau in her successful drive to oust Councilmember Jim Graham.
But before the signatures could start, the pot advocates had one more obstacle to face: local activist and themail email newsletter reporter Dorothy Brizill. Brizill complained to the board about a DCMJ volunteer who argued with her outside a polling place, insisting that his sign-up sheet was actually one of the petitions. Eidinger blamed Brizill’s dispute on an “extremely overzealous” volunteer, and DCBOE issued the petitions anyway.
The future of both the initiative and recently passed marijuana decriminalization legislation could be in jeopardy, though, following the news that a House subcommittee will take up the decriminalization bill. At a morning press conference, Vince Gray told the House to stay out of the District’s marijuana plans.
“This is a local issue, and I don’t think they should be involved in it,” Gray said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery