DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - The campaigns for and against legalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital are not exactly sophisticated — no targeted robo-calling, no TV commercials, no get-out-the-vote drive. The Yes side instead papers streetlamp poles with signs that say just “Legalize.” The No side counters with its simple slogan, “Two. Is. Enough. D.C.,” meaning that legal alcohol and tobacco give Washingtonians all the mind-altering substances they need.
The head of the No campaign, Will Jones, says he has never smoked pot, doesn’t drink except at weddings and believes marijuana is an expressway to heroin and the like. The head of the Yes campaign counters with an assurance that weed “is non*toxic and no one has ever overdosed from it.” “Believe me,” said Adam Eidinger, “it would have happened to me by now.”
D.C. voters will be asked Nov. 4 for a simple yes or no on legalizing marijuana, which the city decriminalized this year, replacing arrests and possible jail time with a $25 fine for possession of up to one ounce. But in the hazy world of marijuana law — an alternate reality in which two U.S. states have declared the substance legal even as it remains banned under federal law — nothing is simple.
In the District, the contradictions get kicked up considerably: If the initiative passes, it would become legal to possess or grow small amounts of marijuana but not to sell or buy the stuff. The D.C. Council is talking about waiting months, or even a year, before taking the next step and passing a scheme to allow sales, taxes and regulation. In the meantime, even if Congress were to allow a Yes vote to stand, the city would become a place where having marijuana is legal but getting it requires illegal acts or a magical appearance of seeds or the finished product.
That leaves even some of the most fervent opponents of marijuana prohibition wondering just what the ballot proposal might accomplish.
Elsewhere across the country, this fall’s votes on marijuana policy would have real and swift impact. Alaska and Oregon voters will decide whether to make state-regulated sales legal, much as Colorado and Washington state have done. In Florida, the ballot includes a measure that would allow medical marijuana, as 23 states and the District do.
By Mark Fisher - Washington Post/Oct. 11, 2014