Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014)

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A Washington, D.C., Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 ballot question was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the District of Columbia, where it was approved.

Initiative 71 made the use of up to two ounces of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants legal according to city law.

Election law does not allow a citizen initiative to mandate the expenditure of city funds. This forced Initiative 71 to avoid addressing the regulation and legalization of marijuana sales, since a regulatory system would require substantial city expenditure. Thus, Initiative 71 simply legalized possession and personal cultivation. The initiative demanded that the city council design an ordinance to establish regulations on marijuana retail and enforcement of such regulations.[1]

Although 70 percent of voters approved Initiative 71, the fate of legal marijuana use remained somewhat uncertain. Congress seems intent on preventing the implementation of the measure, while city officials staunchly moved forward with the voter-approved proposal. At one point, the city council did back down from meeting to discuss implementation of marijuana legalization after it was pointed out by city attorneys that jail time or fines could be the penalty for moving against Congress. See the "Aftermath" section below for developments.


  • January 10, 2014: D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ) submits initiative proposal
  • July 1, 2014: DCMJ submits over 57,000 signatures
  • August 6, 2014: D.C. Board of Elections certifies petition
  • November 4, 2014: Election Day — 70 percent of voters approve Initiative 71
  • December 3, 2014: Election results certified
  • January 13, 2015: D.C. Council ignores Congress and submits initiative per regular protocol
  • February 24, 2015: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) telling her that moving forward with Initiative 71 would put the city in "knowing and willful violation of the law."
  • February 26, 2015: 30-day Congressional review ended; Initiative 71 went into effect, with no provisions set up for regulation of sales or law enforcement protocol
Voting on Marijuana
Marijuana Leaf-smaller.gif
Ballot Measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot


Although 70 percent of voters approved Initiative 71, which was designed to legalize small amounts of marijuana in the nation's capital, the fate of the measure ultimately rests with the U.S. Congress, a legislative body in which D.C. voters have no voting representatives. City and federal laws give Congress a 30-day window to review the city's measure and either reject it or let it stand. Congress also had the power to restrict Initiative 71 through its control over the city's budget.[2]

Budget clause blocking funds to "enact" 71

Congress first attacked the initiative through this second option. Buried in its $1.1 trillion spending bill, Congress included a small additional clause that prohibits federal or local funds from being used to “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance," which includes marijuana. The small addition to the budget proposal was easily passed, since the spending bill needed to be approved to allow the continued funding of federal government operations.[3]

This small additional clause, called a rider, is more significant than it might appear. For example, it prohibited the city council from even discussing marijuana legalization or decriminalization in any official capacity since the council is compensated through city funds. It also prohibits any sort of dissemination of the new law, the implementation of any sort of taxation or regulation structure, the establishment of new programs for the police department to address how marijuana should be treated by law enforcement and any of the other steps normally taken upon legalization of marijuana.[3][4]

Jail time threatened for council members

The effects of this rider came to a head when the city council made plans to meet on February 9, 2015, to discuss marijuana legalization and important regulatory provisions. Prior to the meeting, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine warned the city council that such a meeting would constitute an expenditure of city funds toward legalization and would be a violation of federal law. After the attorney was clear that fines and even jail time could be the result if the council ignored this warning, council members abandoned the meeting.[4]

Racine wrote, “The issue here is not whether Initiative 71, which was, in our view, enacted before the 2015 Appropriations Act became effective, but, rather, whether the hearing on this bill — which was not enacted by the time the rider took effect — would violate the rider. We believe it would."[5]

Controversy over "enactment"

Some, however, are claiming that this law only prevents future legalization or decriminalization, while Initiative 71 was already "enacted." A summary of the legislative rider — the small clause added to the federal budget — for the House Appropriations Committee implies, however, that the bill was specifically designed to prevent the enactment of Initiative 71. Before the passage of the bill, Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser said, “I call on all members of Congress to respect the will of D.C. voters and reject any attempts to violate our right to self-governance. In the meantime, the Council and I will move forward to implement the law in a thoughtful and responsible way.”[3][6]

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) stated that he would ignore the controversial rider prohibiting funding for Initiative 71, and he continued to follow regular protocol. The next step for the city council was to submit the measure to Congress with a plan for implementing it. The council took this step on January 13, 2015, giving Congress a 30-day review period, during which the lawmakers could repeal the bill or let it stand.[7][8][9]

This law, which goes against the will of 70 percent of voters in the capital, would also work against a decriminalization bill passed by the city council early in 2014 that makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction, removing jail time and sharply reducing the maximum fines for violations.[7]

Obama's budget

President Obama responded to the budget clause preventing legalization with a statement supporting the authority of D.C. to spend its money to enforce legalization and a budget proposal of his own that specifies that subtly changing the clause concerning funds for marijuana legalization to concern only federal funds, leaving the city free to spend money as it sees fit. Obama also released a statement supporting budget autonomy for the District of Columbia. Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance and vice chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, said, "It is very much consistent with the administration’s stance that marijuana policy is a state’s rights issue and his statements in support of D.C. being able determine its local laws." The president's budget, however, would have to move through the Republican controlled House and Senate, giving it a small chance of survival.[10]

Implementation and enforcement

Election law does not allow a citizen initiative to mandate the expenditure of city funds. This forced Initiative 71 to avoid addressing the regulation and legalization of marijuana sales, since a regulatory system would require substantial city expenditure. Thus, Initiative 71 simply legalized possession and personal cultivation. The initiative demanded that the city council design and submit to Congress an ordinance to establish regulations on marijuana retail and enforcement of such regulations.[1]

Since Congress did not allow the city to implement rules for regulation, taxation and law enforcement and the city refused to let the budget's clause prohibiting funds for implementation completely overturn Initiative 71, the city went into legal grey area on February 26, when Initiative 71 went into effect.[11]

Expounding the questions begged by the situation, D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) said, “Where can it be bought? Sold? Eaten? Smoked? We’re not going to have answers to any of that, and that makes me very concerned. Let’s be responsible about how we do this so we don’t have a negative image coming out.”[11]

Tiffany Bowden, the co-founder of the pro-marijuana group ComfyTree, gave her take on the situation: “The District will be unique because you can’t technically sell cannabis directly. All that means is the traditional dispensary model as we know it will not happen. But that doesn’t mean the cannabis industry is going to be asleep. It’s actually going to be thriving in Washington.”[11]

The position of the city

Eleanor Holmes Norton

The city claimed that the initiative was enacted when voters approved it, making the budget rider prohibiting funds to "enact" legalization or decriminalization laws ineffective against Initiative 71. City officials moved forward with the standard protocol for implementing a measure by sending it to Congress, giving them a 30-day window to reject it. They further blamed Congress for impeding the development of rules and an enforcement plan for the regulation and taxation of marijuana use and sales, claiming this would result in costly lawsuits and a police force with no clear guidelines for how to treat cannabis. According to standard procedures, the initiative became effective on February 26, 2015.[11][12]

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is a non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as a delegate from the District of Columbia. Speaking about the budget rider restricting the city's funds, she said, “Should we accept that it [Initiative 71] was already struck down, or should we make them work for it?” Agreeing with Mendelson's plan, she continued, “The question is, what should the District’s posture now be... and it’s absolutely continue the fight. Adopt your own interpretation of what the [budget] language means and put the burden on them to strike it down. Do not acquiesce.”[7]

Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, holds the unique position of opposing legalized marijuana in the city, but supporting the city's budget autonomy. Botticelli said, “As a resident of the District, I might not agree about legalization, but I do agree with our own ability to spend our own money the way that we want to do that. The president, as it relates to the District, I think was very clear that the District should stick to its home rule.”[13][10]

The position of Congress

Congress seems to be ignoring the measure that was sent to them on January 13, 2015. The leading D.C. legalization opponents in Congress claim that the issue was sufficiently dealt with by the clause in the budget forbidding funds to enact measures such as Initiative 71.[14]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the new chairman of the committee with oversight of D.C. policy, said, “That issue has come and gone." Chaffetz insisted that if the city moved forward with the implementation of Initiative 71, there would be consequences.[12]

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a leading opponent of D.C. marijuana legalization, said, “Despite attempts to misconstrue the language of the omnibus bill, it is clear that if D.C. chooses to proceed with enactment of marijuana legalization, they will be in violation of the law."[14]

February 26, legalization goes into effect

On February 26, 2015, the 30-day congressional review of Initiative 71 ended. Since Congress had not acted to explicitly strike down the initiative, cannabis became officially legal, according to city law, to grow and possess in small amounts beginning on that day. There were, however, no provisions for the taxation, regulation or sale of the drug. Elanor Holmes Norton, speaking of the legality of use and possession but the continued prohibition of sales, said, "What you're going to have on Feb. 26 is an anomaly. You can possess a small amount ... but you can only get it, I guess, illegally. It's going to be an incomplete reform."[15]

Moreover, it appeared that many members of Congress wished to keep sales illegal and continue to thwart the full implementation of legalized marijuana. Rep. Chaffetz said, "I respect the people who live here and most everything passes through without a problem. But the idea that this is going to be a haven for pot smoking, I can't support that."[15]

Late on the evening of February 24, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) coauthored a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), warning her of the consequences of allowing Initiative 71 to go into effect:

If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law.[16]

The letter went on to demand that Bowser submit to the House Oversight Committee any documentation related to the law's enactment and a list of relevant D.C. officials along with information on their salaries and the extent of their involvement. The letter can be read in full here.

These documents, and others requested later, were presented to Congress as part of an ongoing investigation of the city's actions with regard to legalization.[17]

DCMJ "Spring Seed Share" banner

Free pot at price?

Although D.C. residents and visitors are allowed to grow and use small amounts of marijuana, they are not permitted, according to Initiative 71, to purchase either marijuana or the seeds and paraphernalia required to grow it. Moreover, Congress has refused to allow city officials to develop, let alone approve and implement, a set of laws to govern marijuana-related sales. This begs the question: How are D.C. residents supposed to acquire pot or the necessary seeds and tools to grow their own. Pot advocates showed themselves unwilling to allow the story of Initiative 71 to end with marijuana legal in name only. Since Initiative 71 made it legal to gift marijuana, a strange share-based economy may be forming in Washington, D.C. In fact, the group originally behind legalization, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ), scheduled free marijuana seed giveaways for March 26 and March 28, giving away over 25,000 marijuana seeds.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Since giving marijuana products away for free doesn't seem like the recipe for a thriving industry, however, some have floated the idea of starting social clubs with membership fees. Once a member, garden areas for growing would be provided and members could freely exchange marijuana products. This would allow the owners to make a profit while remaining within the boundaries of Initiative 71.[18][19]

Congressional investigation of city council proceeds

Meanwhile, Congress increased the pressure on the city government. After sending a warning to the city council on February 24, Congress officially launched an investigation of the city council and city employees, looking for violations of a small clause attached to the federal budget that forbade city funds from being used to enact legalization. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows, the respective chairmen of the congressional committees with control over D.C., demanded all employee information, spending figures and communications regarding legalization to be handed over to the federal officials in charge of the investigation by March 10.[17]

Moreover, Congress has requested information regarding a roundtable discussion of regulation and taxation of marijuana sales held by the city council on February 9, 2015. The letter from Congress demanded disclosure of the roundtable participants and a preliminary legal defense of such a discussion after Congress prohibited any city funds from being used to enact legalization. Although the meeting was deliberately informal, rather than an official council meeting, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was apparently concerned about the consequences of involvement. He agreed to disclose only the council members that were in attendance, leaving the names of other city employees at the meeting a secret.[17]

Election results

Washington D.C. Initiative 71
Approveda Yes 115,050 70.06%
Election results from the District of Columbia Board of Elections
  • Note: The percentages above were calculated from the total votes on Initiative 71. The D.C. Board of Elections' percentages are different because they include the undervotes and overvotes.

Text of measure

DCMJ 2014 campaign website image

Short title

The ballot title for Initiative 71 read:[20]

Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014[16]

Ballot summary

The ballot summary for Initiative 71 read:[20]

This initiative, if passed, will make it lawful under District of Columbia law for a person 21 years of age or older to:

  • possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use;
  • grow no more than six cannabis plants with 3 or fewer being mature, flowering plants, within the person’s principal residence;
  • transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years of age or older; and
  • use or sell drug paraphernalia for the use, growing, or processing of marijuana or cannabis.[16]

Full text

See also: Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014), full text

The full text of the legislation enacted by the approval of Initiative 71 is available here.[20]


DCMJ campaign sign


  • D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ 2014)[19]
  • Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capital Hemp

Eidinger said, "I imagine the President rolling up a tobacco-marijuana cigarette with John Boehner and sitting on the back porch of the White House to work out their problems."[21]

Arguments in favor

Eidinger and supporters of the initiative claimed the following reasons for and benefits of a yes vote on legalization:[21]

  • Dignity for victims of the racist drug war.
  • Safety from encountering drug deals gone bad and poor quality weed.
  • Quality increases at cannabis retailers when they compete with home grow.
  • No cash exchange is needed and it defunds cartels.
  • Limited to just three mature plants making diversion unlikely.
  • D.C. voters already approved home cultivation in 1998.
  • Home cultivation is permitted in many jurisdictions where marijuana is legal.
  • There is no threat to children, according to an NIH study.
  • Federal Government is only concerned with large grows, not three plants.
  • The notion that the state has power to regulate nature out of existence is immoral.
  • Home brewing of wine and beer came with alcohol prohibition ending.
  • Cannabis is not just a big business to be taxed.
  • D.C. could require registrations for home cultivation.
  • Our founding fathers wanted people to be happy and free at home.
  • Homegrown tobacco is not regulated.[16]

Issue of race

A lot of support for Initiative 71, as well as for decriminalization, was fueled by reports of an inordinate number of arrests of African Americans, especially young black men, for marijuana possession and use. While surveys showed equal or higher use of marijuana by white people, a fairly large majority of marijuana related arrests were made on black people. Supporters said Initiative 71 would end this arena for racism.[21]

The ACLU-NCA released a report in 2013 that showed 91 percent of the 5,393 marijuana-related arrests made in 2010 were of black residents. The same study claimed that, although drug use was similar among white and black people, a black person was eight times more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis in D.C.[22]

Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of the D.C. branch of the ACLU, “By any measure, the war on drugs, particularly on marijuana, has been a failure and severely impacted [b]lack communities and communities of color."[22]

Supporting bill

Eidinger and DCMJ 2014 supported a bill sponsored by city council member David Grosso (I-At Large), which, according to U.S. News, "would levy a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana and 6 percent on medical marijuana. It would also authorize the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to issue licenses to recreational marijuana stores." Eidinger said, "We think Grosso's bill is the bill that should be heard before the Judiciary Committee, not Wells' bill. I'm really excited about the Grosso bill, but he's not getting any respect." As of November 2014, Grosso's bill did not have any co-sponsors."[19]


  • D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan[23]
  • Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6)

Arguments against

Attorney General Nathan advised the board of elections that the proposed initiative would violate federal law and urged them to reject it. In a letter to the D.C. Board of Elections Nathan wrote, "The Initiative is improper because its prohibition on denying any benefit based on conduct that it purports to make lawful is incompatible with at least one area of federal law involving District-provided benefits: federal public housing law."[23]


  • The Washington Post editorial board released an article urging voters to reject Initiative 71 and wait to make a less hasty and more thoughtful decision after more research on the drug had been done and after legalization had been tried in other areas. The article also presented the city's decriminalization bill already in place, a bill that decreased penalties for marijuana use to a small fine, as a better, more cautious approach. Below is an excerpt of the Washington Post editorial:[24]

We supported the elimination of harsh criminal penalties; jailing people who smoked pot and saddling them with criminal records made no sense and resulted in the unfair targeting of young black men.


It’s instructive that the council, in assessing the city’s approach to marijuana enforcement, chose the more cautious path of decriminalization rather than outright legalization. Voters would do well to consider the reasons for that caution.

The American Medical Association has come out against legalization, arguing that “cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.” The active ingredient in marijuana has been linked to memory problems, impaired thinking and weakened immune systems, not to mention it acts as a gateway to more dangerous drugs. Dangers are more pronounced for young people. A study just published in the Lancet Psychiatry reported that teenagers who smoke marijuana daily are 60 percent less likely to complete high school. Advocates of legalization say it would not apply to young people but with legalization inevitably comes a message of approval.

It’s not been a year since Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana use and, as the Smart Approaches to Marijuana has catalogued, there have been negative consequences, including increased instances of impaired driving and increased use by youth. With marijuana already decriminalized, there’s no reason for the District to rush the next step; why not at least give Colorado a bit more time to provide lessons?

D.C. voters should vote no on Initiative No. 71 on Nov. 4.[16]

The Washington Post editorial board[24]

Decriminalization bill

Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) sponsored a bill called the "Marijuana Decriminalization Bill," which reduced the maximum penalty for possession of an ounce of marijuana from six months in prison and a $1,000 find to just a $25 fine for possession and a $100 fine for public use, with no jail time. This bill was given final approval by the entire city council on March 4, 2014. The DCMJ 2014 initiative superseded this bill.[21][25][26][27]

Eidinger, who disapproved of Wells' bill, said, "Sixty-four percent in our poll in April supported legalization." But he expressed concern that support for the decriminalization bill might divert support for his initiative and stated that he might withdraw his initiative if support waned too much, saying, "I won't do it if it's under 60 percent, you can mark my words. If we're at 59 percent in our next poll of D.C. voters for legalization, if we're losing support for legalization because of Wells' efforts, then we won't do it." Eidinger believed that Wells' bill would not put a stop to drug-related violence as well as having other weaknesses. A recent poll showed 63 percent support for legalization.[21]


Propositions for two competing efforts to eliminate legal consequences for small amounts of recreational marijuana in the nation's capital were seen in early 2014. A group called DCMJ 2014, led by Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capital Hemp, filed its Marijuana Legalization initiative—Initiative 71—with the D.C. Board of Elections on January 10, 2014. Supporters called the initiative the Legalization of Home Cultivation and Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014. This measure was designed to fully legalize the possession and use of up to two ounces of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants.[27][28][29][21]

City legislators approved a bill that decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot on March 5, 2014. It was made relatively obsolete, however, by the approval of Initiative 71.[25][26]

Adam Eidinger, campaign chairman for the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, expressed concern that the U.S. Congress would interfere with the initiative and prevent it from going into effect, since marijuana would still be illegal according to federal law. Eidinger said, "We are proud of our petition circulators who braved the heat to further democracy in the District of Columbia, but I am very concerned that members of Congress will use their power to stop District of Columbia voters from being able to fully participate in the democratic process. We deserve the right to vote on Initiative 71."[27]

Both the enacted decriminalization bill and Initiative 71 were targeted by critics at the federal level. Ultimately, the U.S. Congress claims control over laws in the nation's capital, and, historically, Congress has been eager to assert this authority with regard to autonomy for Washington, D.C.—for example, with the budget autonomy ballot question approved by city voters in 2013. Considering marijuana consumption is illegal according to federal law, some expected Congress to take pre-election steps to oppose Initiative 71, since it puts the capital's laws in conflict with federal drug enforcement policy. Ultimately, Congress waited until after the election to begin working against the measure.

Prediction of delayed implementation

Because of the complexities surrounding the measure, including the possibility that Congress would simply overturn Initiative 71 and the necessity for the council to design provisions for the enforcement of restrictions and regulations on the sale and use of marijuana, city council members openly discussed the option of delaying the implementation of Initiative 71 until some of the uncertainties surrounding it could be ironed out.[1]

Councilman David Grosso said, “I don’t want uncertainty to be out there in the streets and in the market, and the initiative as it is written doesn’t give us the certainty we need." He continued, "It may be easier to just delay the whole thing while we come up with the regulatory framework."[1]

Supporters of Initiative 71 were less than pleased with this prospect. Some predicted that, due to the widespread support of the measure, there would be significant political consequences and disfavor among the people if the council were to delay legalization. Aaron Houston, a longtime marijuana reform advocate in D.C., said, “Because marijuana legalization is broadly supported by D.C. voters — and given the deep disdain voters here have against politicians subverting the will of the people — any move to delay implementation of the intent of the initiative would be very politically risky."[1]

Marijuana advocates also pointed towards Colorado to argue that the design of retail regulations can occur after legalization. Adam Eidinger, one of the leaders in the pro-71 movement, said that in Colorado legalization was implemented only a month after the approval of Amendment 64, while it took over a year to put the necessary ordinances and infrastructure in place to allow legal sales of the drug. Eidinger said, “They stopped arresting people, they let people grow their own and keep what they grew. There was no regulation in place other than that.”[1]

Ultimately, since Congress did not approve a regulation and implementation bill, the initiative was set to go into effect on February 26, 2015, with no rules regarding marijuana sales or enforcement in place.[11]


Washington Post

The Washington Post published polls in January 2014 and again in September 2014, which showed overwhelming support for the legalization of marijuana in the nation's capital holding steady. The polls were conducted by phone—both cell phones and land lines—and asked about support or opposition to the legalization of small amounts of marijuana. The results were as follows:[30]

Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization 2014
Poll Support OpposeOtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Washington Post poll on pot legalization
Washington Post poll on pot legalization[31]
9/14/2014 - 9/16/2014
AVERAGES 63% 34% 3% +/-3.5 1,036.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

During the January poll, the 341 polled who were opposed to marijuana legalization were also asked about support for or opposition to decriminalization of marijuana. The poll asked the people who responded in opposition to legalization if they would be in favor of or opposed to creating a maximum penalty of a $100 fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The responses were as follows:[30]

Washington D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization 2014
Poll Support OpposeOtherSample Size
Washington Post poll on pot decriminalization
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

The most recent polls, compared to a 2010 poll, showed a shocking increase over the last four years in the portion of Washington, D.C. residents that favor legalization. A similar poll conducted in January 2010 showed the following, much more evenly divided sides of support and opposition, with opposition slightly ahead:[32]

Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization 2010
Poll Support OpposeOtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Washington Post poll, including pot legalization
Jan. 24-28, 2010
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Public Policy Polling

Public Policy Polling was commissioned to conduct a poll by WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show and the Washington City Paper that asked many questions, including the following question on the proposed marijuana legalization initiative:[33]

The D.C. Council recently voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. But this November, the ballot may contain a referendum question regarding marijuana legalization. The proposal could allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use and to grow up to three marijuana plants at home. The city’s Attorney General has opposed this idea, arguing that it would put D.C. at odds with federal drug laws. If you were to vote on the ballot measure today, how would you vote?[16]

This poll was conducted by calling landlines.[34] The results were as follows:

D.C. Marijuana Legalization Poll
Poll Support OpposeOtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling questionnaire, including marijuana legalization
03/13/2014 - 03/16/2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

The group D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ 2014) submitted their initiative on January 10, 2014. After much opposition from D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan, the D.C. Board of Elections approved the legalization initiative on March 11, 2014. Eidinger, leader of DCMJ 2014, was hoping for a kickoff to signature gathering on April 1, 2014, with circulators stationed outside of polling places during the city's primary election on that day. But delays in the board's decision on the initiative pushed back the day on which proponents were able to collect signatures. Eidinger said, “Now it’s not happening until mid-April—4/20, maybe."[28][35]

The signature submission deadline for the initiative was set by law as July 7, 2014. On July 1, 2014, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign announced that its circulators had collected over 57,000 signatures. The group only needed 23,780 valid signatures to qualify Initaitive 71 for the ballot. After submitting them, the group announced that it only took 75 days to collect the signatures. On August 6, 2014, the D.C. Board of Elections ruled the petition sufficient and certified Initiative 71 for the ballot.[27][35][36][37]

Similar measures


Approveda Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014)



Approveda City of Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
Approveda City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Town of York Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)



New Mexico:

Approveda Santa Fe County Marijuana Decriminalization Advisory Question (November 2014)
Approveda Bernalillo County Marijuana Decriminalization Advisory Question, Measure 1 (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Albuquerque Marijuana Decriminalization Measure (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Santa Fe Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative (November 2014)


Approveda Dane County State Legalization of Marijuana Referendum (April 2014)



Approveda City of Santa Ana Council-Referred Medical Marijuana Regulation Ordinance, Measure BB (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Santa Ana Medical Cannabis Restriction and Limitation Initiative, Measure CC (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of La Mesa Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposition J (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Encinitas Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposition F (November 2014)
Defeatedd Nevada County Medical Marijuana Cultivation, Measure S (November 2014)
Approveda Butte County Medical Marijuana Ordinance 4075 Referendum, Measure A (November 2014)
Defeatedd Butte County Medical Marijuana Initiative, Measure B (November 2014)
Approveda Shasta County Outdoor Medical Marijuana Ordinance Referendum, Measure A (November 2014)
Defeatedd Lake County "Medical Marijuana Control Act" Initiative, Measure O (November 2014)
Defeatedd Lake County "Freedom to Garden Human Rights Restoration Act" Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Weed Permitting Licensing of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Advisory Question, Measure L (November 2014)
Approveda City of Weed Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Ban Advisory Question, Measure K (November 2014)
Approveda Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 2997 Referendum, Measure N (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Imperial Beach "Compassionate Access Ordinance" Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Act (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Napa Medical Marijuana Dispensary Referendum (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of San Jose Medical Marijuana Regulation Act of 2014 (November 2014)

See also

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading

Aftermath news

Pre-election news


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Marijuana.com, "D.C. Ballot Measure Faces Possible Delay If Approved," October 13, 2014
  2. Government Executive, "Will Congress Let D.C. Legalize Pot?," December 1, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Washington Times, "Congress axes D.C. marijuana legalization in spending plan," December 9, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Daily Caller, "DC Council Threatened With Jail Time For Discussing Marijuana," February 9, 2015
  5. Washington Post, "D.C. Council backs down on marijuana hearing after attorney general warning," February 9, 2015
  6. WXII 12 News, "Activists: House to block DC pot legalization," December 10, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Washington Post, "D.C. maneuvering for marijuana showdown with Congress," December 13, 2014
  8. RT, "DC Council sends pot legalization measure for congressional review despite ban," January 14, 2015
  9. Washington Times, "D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative under review by Congress," January 14, 2015
  10. 10.0 10.1 Huffington Post, "Obama Budget Would Allow D.C. Marijuana Legalization" February 2, 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 JDJ Journal, "Citizens of Washington D.C. Unsure How Marijuana Legalization Will Work," February 17, 2015
  12. 12.0 12.1 Policy.mic, "Congress Has Turned D.C. Marijuana Legalization Into a Nightmare," February 17, 2015
  13. The Fix, "D.C. Attorney General Threatens City Council With Jail Time For Discussing Marijuana," February 10, 2015
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Washington Post, "D.C. challenges Congress to halt marijuana legalization in nation’s capital," January 13, 2015
  15. 15.0 15.1 WTAQ, "Legal haze: D.C. pot users face questions as deadline expires this week," February 23, 2015
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Roll Call, "D.C. Responds to Marijuana Investigation," March 16, 2015
  18. Time, "D.C.’s Weird New Free Weed Economy," February 26, 2015
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 DCMJ website, "Home," accessed March 23, 2015
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 DCMJ 2014 website, "Home," accessed January 13, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 DCist, "Marijuana Activists Fight For Full Legalization, Home Cultivation In D.C." October 18, 2013
  22. 22.0 22.1 Alternet, "Congress Blocks Marijuana Decriminalization in D.C., Racist Pot Arrests Rage On," June 25, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 The DCist, "D.C. Attorney General: Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative Violates Federal Law," February 20, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 The Washington Post, "D.C. voters should reject the rush to legalize marijuana," September 14, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Washington Post, "D.C. Council members advance bill to eliminate jail, limit fines for marijuana to $25," January 15, 2014
  26. 26.0 26.1 Bloomberg.com, "Pot Decriminalization Approved by Washington City Council," March 5, 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Vox, "DC may vote on marijuana legalization this November," July 1, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 The Washington Post, "D.C. Board of Elections allows marijuana legalization effort to move forward," March 11, 2014
  29. Fox News, "Pot legalization ballot initiative filed in DC," January 10, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 Washington Post, "Support for marijuana legalization grows in the District," January 15, 2014
  31. Note: Among the 1,070 registered voters, 572 were identified as likely voters. The results among likely voters was identical to the results among all of those surveyed.
  32. Washington Post, "January 2010 DC Poll," accessed January 17, 2014
  33. The Week Blog, "Poll: 49% Support Marijuana Legalization In Washington DC, 39% Oppose," archived March 27, 2014
  34. Note: Some speculated that the actual percentage of supporters is higher than this poll indicates because those with landlines tend to be older and more conservative.
  35. 35.0 35.1 The Washingtonian, "DC Voters Could Get to Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November," March 11, 2014
  36. CBS DC, "D.C. Pot Group Submits Signatures to Let Voters Decide on Marijuana Legalization," July 7, 2014
  37. DCMJ website, "PRESS RELEASE: Ballot Initiative 71 Qualifies for November General Election Ballot," August 6, 2014