WASHINGTON, D.C. – Holding two boxes full of petitions, members of the Cannabis Campaign for Legalizing Marijuana in D.C. walked into the Board of Elections headquarters just seven hours before the 5 p.m. deadline to get an initiative on the November ballot Monday.
In the boxes were twice the number of petition signatures needed to get their initiative on the ballot.
“This is just about the residents having the right to live freely in their homes; to not fear the police are going to break down their door,” said campaigner Adam Eidinger.
It’s called Initiative 71, and it would allow a D.C. resident to possess up to 2 ounces for personal use, and to grow up to six plants and legally give marijuana away, though not to sell it.
As for how district residents would vote on the measure, most people we talked to Monday said they would vote yes.
“It’s pretty convincing to me that arrests disproportionately affect young black men, and so that’s a pretty good argument for legalization,” said resident Derek Musgrove.
“We can put those resources to better use; we can add tax revenue,” said resident Brandon Farris.
The cannabis promoters watched as Board of Elections workers hand-counted the petition sheets. At least 22,400 of the signatures must be valid, which is why they said they over-collected and gathered around 57,000, in the case some are found to be invalid.
Campaign organizers told local news partner WTOP that it took less than 75 days to collect the thousands of signatures.
Not everyone supports the legalization of marijuana in D.C., though.
“You’re putting something that’s not pleasing to God in your body, and it leads you to do other things – crime, your actions, everything,” said resident Sharon Jackson.
And on Capitol Hill, committee chairman John Mica held up a fake joint expressing his concerns. Another Republican, Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, got D.C.’s weaker marijuana decriminalization law killed in committee – meaning, legally lighting up in D.C. is by no means a certainty.