Washington DC gearing up to legalize weed

Poll: 65% Of DC Likely Voters Support Marijuana Legalization


Washington DC voters look like they’re gearing up to make weed legal. That’s according to a new NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll.

The poll found that 65% of those likely to vote in this fall’s election are leaning toward voting yes on a ballot initiative to legalize pot. Another two percent are undecided.

On Nov. 4, voters in the District of Columbia will decide Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of weed would remain illegal. The D.C. Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

Initiative 71, proposed by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, received more than 57,000 signatures to get on the November ballot, with little to no opposition during the signature-gathering effort.

The racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests is one of the central platforms for the local marijuana legalization movement.

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Arrest statistics put out by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee showed that from 2009 to 2011 about nine out of 10 people arrested for drugs in Washington were black, though blacks make up just slightly more than half of the city’s population. Yet government surveys show that blacks are no more likely than whites to use the drug.

The WLC reports, “More than eight out of 10 arrests in our city were of African Americans. MPD reported a total of 142,191 adult arrests from 2009 through 2011. While there are about as many African Americans aged 18 or older (47.6%) as there are adult whites (42%) living in this city, eight out of 10 adults arrested for a crime in Washington are African American. In 2010, there were 40,353 arrests of adult African American Washingtonians, which is equivalent to 17 percent of the total number of adult African American D.C. residents.”

The Washington Lawyer’s Committee also says, “There were 31,874 arrests that year of adult African American men, which is equivalent to more than 30% of the adult male African American population. The 4,866 arrests of white residents is equivalent to 2% of the white D.C. residents aged 18 or older.”

Marijuana was decriminalized in D.C. this summer. Those caught for the first time with a small amount are given a citation rather than potential jail time. However, the drug remains illegal.

Voters in three states will decide on new marijuana laws in November. Oregon and Alaska voters will cast ballots on the legalization of recreational marijuana, while voters in Florida will decide on a medical marijuana ballot measure.