The Nation's Capital Could Legalize Marijuana in November

August 7, 2014

D.C. residents will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana use in the nation’s capital after elections officials decided Wednesday to place the question on the ballot.

The three-member D.C. Board of Elections voted unanimously Wednesday morning to approve the ballot initiative, certifying that activists gathered the tens of thousands of voter signatures necessary to qualify for the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Several of those activists attended Wednesday’s meeting and cheered the vote, which moves the District closer to joining Colorado and Washington as the only places in the nation where marijuana possession and cultivation are fully legal.

“In a democracy, the voice of the people should be heard,” said Malik Burnett, a doctor and leader of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, an activist group that said it collected more than 57,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Board spokeswoman Tamara Robinson said the staff validated 27,688 of those signatures. To qualify for the November ballot, 22,600 signatures were required.

A Washington Post poll taken this year showed 63 percent support for marijuana legalization among District residents. But the legalization effort could be complicated by efforts in Congress to forestall the city’s efforts to liberalize its marijuana laws.

A House budget bill passed last month included a provision to block not only a legalization effort but also a decriminalization bill passed by the D.C. Council this year that is in effect.

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