Nearly two thirds of likely voters in Washington, D.C., plan to vote “yes” on a bill to legalize pot in the District.
Initiative 71 would effectively legalize pot in Washington, making in the third jurisdiction in the nation to legalize the plant, following Colorado and Washington (state), according to the Washington Post. Voters will take up the issue when they go to the polls November 4.
The proposed law would allow people to possess up to two ounces of pot for personal use, as well as grow up to three pot plants, and allow for the sale of pot paraphernalia. Currently the penalty for pot possession in Washington is a $25 fine.
Just four years ago, voters in the nation’s capital, nearly half of whom are black, opposed a move to legalize pot, according to UPI. Washington’s population has grown by nearly 45,000 — 7.4 percent — and most of those new residents are affluent whites who are more likely to support pot legalization.
Another concern for voters who support pot legalization has been the way Washington’s pot laws have traditionally been enforced. Though the city is roughly half white and half black, and pot use is roughly the same between the races, blacks account for nine out of ten arrests for pot possession in D.C.
Still, the notion of pot legalization in Washington has its opponents. Legalizing pot in Washington would essentially mean open pot sales almost literally across the street from FBI and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents. Legalization would also put Washington at odds with its biggest business, the federal government. And, according to this Inquisitr report, at least one representative (Andy Harris, R-Maryland) has promised that Congress will take notice — and not in a good way — if Washington legalizes pot. And even pot legalization supporters fear that legalizing pot in Washington would force Congress to act on the matter of individual jurisdictions legalizing pot in spite of federal law.
For Washington, D.C. resident Nina Moiseiwitsch, who is currently a college student and plans to vote absentee, the time to legalize pot in Washington has come.
“[The police] have better things to focus on than trying to keep on top of something they really can’t,” she said. “I think it’s a distraction from… harder drugs that really are a problem in D.C. And it could become safer once regulated.”
Alaska and Oregon will join Washington, D.C. this November in holding voting referendums on pot legalization.
[Image courtesy of: PMBC Group]