District of Columbia
Last Update: October 21, 2014

Early voting has begun

Early voting in Washington, D.C. began on Monday, October 20. District voters are allowed to cast their ballots in person at One Judiciary Square in the Old City Council Chambers (1st floor, right side of building) from October 20 until November 1, from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Additional early voting centers will be open from October 25 through November 1, at the same times and days as the location at Judiciary Square. Voters who wish to vote on November 4 can find their polling location here.

It is vital that all those who support sensible marijuana policy reform in D.C. get out and vote this election cycle. Appearing on the 2014 ballot is Initiative 71, which will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants — with no more than three being mature — in their private residences. Adults will also be allowed to give away up to an ounce of marijuana, but any sales would still be criminal. Finally, the initiative would remove penalties for the using and selling of marijuana paraphernalia. 

D.C. law forbids imposing a tax via the ballot initiative process, so Initiative 71 does not set up a Colorado-like system of taxing and regulating the production and adult retail sales of marijuana. MPP will continue to work with the D.C. Council, the mayor’s office, and our allies to see to it that the marijuana market no longer funds dangerous criminals and drug cartels, but is entrusted to regulated, taxed, and responsible entrepreneurs. Please ask your councilmember to tax and regulate marijuana.

D.C. Council passes, Mayor Gray signs emergency legislation to temporarily amend the medical marijuana program

On July 29, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 — legislation that temporarily expands and improves upon the District’s medical marijuana program! D.C. physicians may now recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they think would respond favorably to the therapeutic use of marijuana, and licensed medical marijuana cultivators may possess 500 plants. This legislation will expire on October 27, so please email your councilmember and ask her or him to support making these changes permanent.

Physicians may now recommend medical marijuana to those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and a host of other conditions that are currently not on the list of qualifying conditions, but that have been shown to benefit from marijuana. Increasing the number of plants regulated cultivators may possess ensures that our seriously ill friends and neighbors have access to the medicine their physicians think will work best for them. Although this legislation is only temporary, it gives the council the time it needs to enact a permanent solution.   

If you have a debilitating condition and would like to know more about medical marijuana in the District, talk to your doctor and visit the District Department of Health’s medical marijuana program website. You can also contact any of the three dispensaries operating in D.C.: Metropolitan Wellness Center at Eastern Market, Capital City Care on North Capitol Street, and Takoma Wellness Center in Takoma Park.

D.C. decriminalization bill takes effect

On July 17, the marijuana decriminalization bill approved by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Vincent Gray officially took effect! The new law, sponsored by Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells, removes all criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine of $25. In addition, the simple smell of marijuana no longer gives a police officer grounds to conduct a search of an individual. In other words, outside of Colorado and Washington, our nation’s capital has the least punitive marijuana laws in the country. For more information on the measure, please see our overview of the ordinance.

It is important to note that this is only a change in District law, not federal law. Marijuana possession on federal lands, including the National Mall, is still a criminal offense and violators may be arrested and prosecuted.

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