DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Sixteen years ago, D.C. activists gathered signatures to let voters decide if the District should be among the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Then Congress stepped in, and city officials were not even allowed to count the ballots that voters had cast.
Inside a rented house in Northwest Washington, behind a shaggy bear skin rug strung up as a makeshift curtain and amid rollaway beds set up for signature gatherers who have come from as far away as California and Colorado, there’s growing anxiety that history is about to repeat itself.
Organizers for Initiative 71, a measure that would fully legalize possession of marijuana in the District, plan to announce this week that they are closing in on 60,000 signatures — a comfortable buffer over the 22,600 needed to ensure the measure qualifies for the November ballot.
Having voters decide if the city should follow Colorado and Washington state in legalizing marijuana seemed – at least until last week – like a logical progression in the District.