Legal Marijuana in Your Nation’s Capital

marijuana_seedlingThe marijuana voter initiative that is almost guaranteed to pass on November 4th is DC Initiative 71, the “Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014.” However, as we will discuss, it is far from certain when the provisions of this proposal will take effect.

Readers should first understand that the District of Columbia is not a state; rather it is a special district created in 1790 by Congress from land along the Potomac River, formerly part of the states of Maryland and Virginia, as the seat of our national government. In 1973 the Congress gave the District a limited form of local control, called the Home Rule Charter, which provides for an elected mayor and City Council, which have the authority to enact and enforce local laws. However, any legislation passed by the City Council is reviewable by the Congress, which has 60 legislative days (when Congress is actually in session) to review and amend or reject the proposed legislation. Those same limitations apply to voter initiatives enacted in the District. In addition, under the Home Rule Charter, voter initiatives may not mandate the expenditure of city funds.

That background is necessary to understand the limited nature of the legalization proposal currently on the ballot for DC voters.

What Initiative 71 Would Do

Initiative 71, sponsored by the DC Cannabis Campaign, would eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for adults, making it legal to:

possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use;
grow no more than six cannabis plants (with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants) within the person’s principal residence;

transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years of age or older; and
use or sell drug paraphernalia for the use, growing or processing of marijuana or cannabis.

Initiative 71 does not attempt to establish legal marijuana dispensaries, as that would run afoul of the home rule prohibition on voter initiatives mandating the expenditure of city funds. And it does not protect marijuana smokers against job discrimination, nor alter the child custody issues pertaining to the use of marijuana or the DUID laws in the District.


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12 thoughts

  1. As I understand it, the slogan of opponents of initiative are using the slogan, ‘two is enough’.

    So we can legally buy a physically addicting carcinogen (nicotine) and a violence promoting drug (alcohol).

    What about those of us who would chose a less destructive alternative?

  2. This doesn’t say whether or not the Congress can force the DC government to continue to enforce cannabis prohibition. Can Congress prevent DC from using government-owned equipment such as email, computers and copy machines to prevent the initiative from being implemented, thus forcing DC to continue to enforce prohibition? It could be imparted by word of mouth. Hopefully with problems like ISIL in the Middle East and other greater issues Congress will leave the DC initiative well enough alone.

  3. Reading this I could almost see my reflection in the laptop screen go 🙂 Yeah! Grow! then 🙁 Nooo.. no dispensaries… then 🙂 Super likely to pass! …Then 🙁 Congress could overrule the city council, then 🙂 Hurray for paraphanalia! Then, :-0 Oh crap! You could still get the DHS to to take state custody of your kids? WTF?

    I realize that patent cases, in this case #6630507, aren’t that easy to fight in court case compared to disproportionate incarceration, but this hypocrisy from the Department of Health and Human Services to both patent and prohibit marijuana is unbearable as it is unconstitutional. I can grow weed and carry a pipe 5 blocks from the U.S. capitol but my neighbor can start an investigation and send a social worker to my house to have my kids taken away and placed into potentially violent private foster care for profit? Is this the f$*ing Twilight Zone? Did Alfred Hitchcock write this drama? This is ACTUALLY the state of our current U.S. marijuana policy??!!

    The most important element of these votes is that it tips us over the half-way mark for pro-marijuana votes in the U.S. so that the horrific injustice of prohibition can finally receive some disinfecting light. Too bad I’m no longer a resident of D.C. or I’d drive all the way from Texas for this vote. I know SO many people whose lives will be changed in such positive ways because of this legislation.
    Whoever thought the day would come when the drug dealer on the street is no longer the menace to our nation’s capitol; The real boogeyman is your local social worker. Damn. That is F’D up.

  4. “Carry a pipe around” is the main issue!

    The most progressive single event of 2014 would be recognition that a VAPORIZER or a Flexible Drawtube One-hitter (25-mg-serving-size screened pipe) can IMMUNIZE every kid on the planet against ever getting addicted to the 700-mg-per-lightup H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide $igarette or its Trojan Horse* echo, the cannabis-loaded 500-mg “Joint” or frequently larger “Blunt”.

    Especially pertinent today: in the current era of cannabis controversy, floods of articles now appear, headed by a picture of a Joint, or of someone smoking a Joint, often from Getty or some other photo “stock” company which has never heard of a vaporizer. Beware, this feeds into the imperialist conspiracy to get more kids hooked on the profitable/deadly $$ 700-mg paper-rollup format before reformers have had time to educate enough masses to SUBSTITUTE vapetoke utensils.

    To every kid whose parents followed advice to keep them ignorant of cannabis, every Joint and every Picture of a Joint is a $igarette advertisement. American media today is a minefield of old movies on tv (with passionate adult gesturing $igarette $moking $cenes), or magazines lying around the house (1943: full page picture ad, movie star with burning $igarette in hand, “Chesterfield is my $igarette.”– (signed) Ronald Reagan).

    Little kids find that stuff, study the pictures, get hooked on the swagger and imperiousness and self-confidence projected there, years before actually sucking on one.

    The “BLUNT” was marketed to certain minority audiences by “wRAP” artists with tobaccular names like Cool and Tupac– yes, wRAP as in $igarette paper, or in the case of the Blunt, a cigar wRAPPER (after discarding the filler tobacco, I found a load of that swimming in the toilet at the library today).

    Kids are led to ignorantly believe they’re “smokin’ cannabis” meanwhile there’s addictive NICOTINE lurking in the cigar wRAPPER leaf…Zap! Hooked for life!– and guess what, the boughten bureaucrat$ can then declare them to be marijuana addicts!

    Well, be careful, if you immunize a kid against ever spending $4000 a year on $igarettes, buying
    $100,000 medical care in the last decade and dying 10 years prematurely, you might get accused of “abusing” the child which will then get confiscated and turned over to a for-profit-foster-care, iondoctrinated to remember you as a threat to their health.

  5. I agree with Julian, this is a very mixed article but I can’t help but think of the tax revenues it will generate in the long term. So for that reason I think many states will legalise in the most minimal way they can and then ramp up over time.

    They dont want to go from nothing to all so they gradually relax the rules and assess the benefits from reduced crime and increased tax revenues.

  6. I’m not going to hold my breath over this, unless I get a big hit of sweet smoke then I’ll hold my breath.

  7. “Can Congress prevent DC from using government-owned equipment such as email, computers and copy machines to prevent the initiative from being implemented, thus forcing DC to continue to enforce prohibition?”

    Uh… Uh… What? No, they don’t have to act quite that stupid, they can just over ride the law which would actually have an effect but a crappy one: Over turning democratic reforms. This law actually flies a lot lower than Colorado and Washington’s laws. Selling isn’t allowed so there will not be any shops for the “feds” to raid. This is like uber decrim.

    The “feds” will have two choices when this passes. They can void it. Or they’ll eventually be forced to write regulations for growing and selling as well. The people will have made it legal and highlighted the “feds” neglect for not already doing their jobs.

  8. @ Renaissance “a good one !”

    Here is my Halloween riddle:
    Hello What are you going to be for Halloween ?
    I am going to put on big fur coat and a big fur hat and then “roll up two great big MJ cig
    then put the two MJ cigs in my teeth; then say

    I AM THE WALRUS (the cigs are my Tusks);
    then when I give my Treat to renaissance mexweed Julian etc. I say You are the EGG MAN!
    Happy Halloween to everyone! “the egg woman!”@

  9. If I read this right, it is perfect. Cultivation, 2oz. No sale. Essentially free pot. Absolutely perfect. Use responsibly, no issues. Drug tests for employment are still an issue, but that is up to the employer and I do not see too many cannabis friendly companies.

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