Is DC Ripe For Harvest: Should The District Cultivate The Next Marijuana Initiative

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“As a longtime DC resident, I’ve always thought of the District as low-hanging fruit,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML  

 

As the 420 community wraps its head around the recent marijuana reform victories in Colorado and Washington on November 6, and medical marijuana has taken roots in the ‘live free or die’ state of Massachusetts, marijuana activists are propagating the seeds of  their next steps towards a national reform, that is long overdue. One of the more popular documents circulating after the recent election enumerated the most likely states to take a swing at marijuana legalization next. Not shocking, the states with a primary focus on reforming marijuana laws tend to be clustered around the East and West Coast. The chronic list includes potential tax and regulate initiatives for California, Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Alaska,.

Conspicuously absent from the rapidly growing list is one region that is chomping at the bit for a sensible marijuana legalization initiative: the political hotbed of Washington, DC. – Despite all the federal haters in the nation’s capital, DC has more than a few reasons to be optimistic.

The voters within the District of Columbia have one major benefit working in their favor – the initiative process. And the DC activists have fired it up with great results, passing their medical marijuana initiative with 69% of the vote back in the heady days of 1998 ( Oh yeah, sorry about the 15 year delay on its implementation – there was just a touch of political infighting going on). Thanks to DC’s overwhelmingly liberal base of constituents; Obama cleaned up with just over 91% of the votes back in November.

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While some pro-pot organizations may not have included Washington DC on its “hit list” that doesn’t mean the people aren’t anxious and waiting for relief, noted MPP’s director Steve Fox.

The troubling issue of congressional meddling is a serious cause for anxiety, stated Fox.

 “DC certainly is ripe for some kind of reform, but we also have to be cognizant of the fact that it is unique in that it has congressional oversight,” Fox said. “With the medical marijuana system finally getting off the ground, we don’t necessarily want to ruffle any feathers by attempting to do anything too bold. When the medical marijuana initiative passed in 1998 and Congress wanted to mess with it, they ended up having a provision something along the lines of DC not being able to spend any funds to lower or reduce penalties related to any schedule I or II substances. If Congress thought DC was going too far too fast, it could block DC from spending any money for reforms of Schedule I substances.”

Cultivating a green rush in DC is no doubt seductive, thought Fox -yet the overriding concern is that the movement may be growing too fast for Congress.

 “There would certainly be value in passing something in the District,” he mused. “You would be making a statement that a strongly Democratic-leaning jurisdiction thinks marijuana should be regulated like alcohol, but that might not be big news to a lot of people. The real impact and real value would be to actually have a regulated market in operation, and members of Congress could see that the sky isn’t falling. We’ve waited 15 years to show Congress you can have medical marijuana dispensaries up and running and serving patients and the public good, and we want to make sure Congress has a chance to absorb that reality.”

“As a longtime DC resident, I’ve always thought of the District as low-hanging fruit,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, who expressed interest in an initiative. “The media market is limited, and there is an overwhelmingly liberal population. But we don’t even have a NORML chapter here, and I see little impetus in the reform community.

Source – Stop The Drug War ”

 

  

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