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D.C. residents, long frustrated by the heavy hand of Congress meddling in the
affairs of the District, appear to be ready to fight back over marijuana. Even though Initiative 71 legalized the drug, out-of-state legislators have effectively blocked the city’s efforts to tax and regulate pot.
According to a new D.C. Vote–Washington City Paper poll, 66 percent of D.C. voters agree that Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration should pursue a legal method to allow the city to tax and regulate marijuana like it does alcohol. And 79 percent agree that D.C.’s elected officials should use “all legal means” to implement ballot initiatives when Congress blocks them.
“We’ve canvassed across this city in all eight wards twice over the last 18 months, and residents are ready to take on Congress,” says Kim Perry, D.C. Vote’s executive director. “They’re tired of feeling beat up by a dysfunctional body of lawmakers from across the country who don’t understand D.C. residents, and they’re ready to fight back.
“It was sheer validation to what we’ve been hearing.”
A spokesperson for Bowser declined to comment on the poll, which also showed support for the creation and regulation of so-called “cannabis clubs” (61 percent for, 30 percent against, 9 percent unsure). The survey of 962 D.C. voters by Public Policy Polling was performed between Jan. 22 and 24 and has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.
“What I get all the time is people asking questions like, ‘Didn’t we pass marijuana here in the city? Did my vote really matter? What’s going on with that?’” Perry says. “I think there was a lot of unfinished business about that particular ballot initiative that people have wanted answers to. I believe our elected officials, with the broad response of this poll, have permission to take Congress on, within legal means, with the support of residents behind them.”
The poll showed broad agreement among District voters in other areas, too: 69 percent expressed some level of support for term limits for both the mayor and D.C. councilmembers; 87 percent would like to see D.C. gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour; and 80 percent would favor changes in campaign finance laws to allow only small donations matched by limited public funding.
“There’s been a lot of discouragement and dismay around the recent FreshPAC debacle, but even before that voters have been very concerned about pay-to-play in the city and so I think this is a direct response to that,” Perry says. “People want clear, transparent leadership in the city, and they don’t want it tainted by big money.”
More questions in The D.C. Poll:
Graphics by Zach Rausnitz