Washington, DC: Three out of four Washington, DC residents favor changing local law to reduce municipal penalties for minor marijuana offenses, according to polling data compiled by the firm Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the advocacy groups, the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance.
According to the poll of 1,621 random voters, 75 percent of DC residents support eliminating criminal penalties and, instead, imposing a $100 fine for marijuana possession offenses involving one ounce or less of cannabis. Sixty-four percent of respondents also said that they supported fine-only penalties for offenses involving the personal cultivation of three plants or fewer. Under present law, simple marijuana possession offenses are classified in the District as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Cultivating cannabis is punishable by a period of six-months to five years, depending on the amount grown.
The poll also found strong support among residents for legalizing and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they would be supportive of a municipal ballot measure to legalize the consumption and retail distribution of marijuana for those aged 21 and over.
District voters have a history of supporting marijuana law reforms. In 1998, 69 percent of voters backed a municipal initiative to allow for the physician-authorized use of cannabis. That law, which was halted by Congress for over a decade, is expected to be operational within the coming weeks.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.