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Top Lawyer’s Opinion Threatens DC Marijuana Legalization Initiative


washington dc marijuana legalizationBy Phillip Smith

The District of Columbia’s attorney general, Irvin Nathan, has issued an opinion saying that the proposed DC marijuana legalization initiative should not go before the voters because it violates federal law. Nathan sent the opinion to the DC Board of Elections Thursday, ahead of its Tuesday meeting to decide whether or not to approve it.

Nathan’s opinion is not binding, board spokesperson Tamara Robinson told the Washington Times.

“We take all comments into consideration, whether they are from the AGs office or written from DC residents,” Robinson said. “At times we have agreed with the attorney general’s office on certain matters and at times we don’t.”

But if the board agrees with the city’s top lawyer next week, that could mean back to the drawing board for the initiative’s proponents, the DC Cannabis Coalition. That in turn could mean its chance of actually gathering enough signatures to qualify for the November 2014 ballot before the clock ran out would be greatly diminished.

In his opinion, Nathan took issue with a passage in the initiative that says “no district government agency or office shall limit or refuse to provide any facility service, program or benefit to any person” based on the legalization of marijuana.”

That language conflicts with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which “requires that public housing leases make ‘drug-related criminal activity’ on or off public housing premises a cause for terminating a public housing lease,” he wrote. “The proposed initiative would prohibit leases from containing such language and prohibit the District from evicting a public-housing tenant who, in violation of federal law and the lease, possessed small quantities of marijuana.”

The coalition’s Adam Eidinger told the Times said he is working with coalition lawyers from his to see if the questionable wording in the initiative can be changed ahead of the Tuesday hearing.

“It might just be a matter of four words that have to be changed,” Eidinger said. “I don’t want to lose our opportunity to collect signatures.”

The initiative would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and allow for growing up to six plants. It would not legalize the sale of marijuana or allow for marijuana retail stores.

The DC city council is preparing for a final vote to decriminalize marijuana possession next month, and there are efforts underway to get a legalization bill moving in the council, but initiative advocates hope that they can either get on the ballot and let voters decide or use the initiative as a sword over the head of the council to prod it to act.

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Johnny Green


  1. Foxeh Chandonnet on

    500 Trillion Dollars, since the 1970’s, have gone to the DEA…according to their OWN website. I get this funny feeling, rather, i feel im accorded the right to say; if the government and all its politicians, could pull their own racist heads out of their racist asses, we wouldnt be so deep in debt. This is a War of Attrition. Wars of Attrition ALWAYS fail. They waged war on NONE VIOLENT Marijuana Users. While ALLOWING the Cartels to traffic drugs into the US in exchange for Intel on rival cartels. LEA organizations everywhere accept pay offs from local criminal enterprises, in exchange for cash and intel on rival gangs. Marijuana hasnt killed a single soul, but google it yourself, the DEA have shot 92 year old ladies in the face over bad information from informants.


  2. superadventureman1 . on

    If cannabis becomes legal, the local law enforcement and DEA will not be able to fund their existence. marijuana is a cash crop for law enforcement and they will not let that get away. Why has that not been discussed?

  3. Victor are you aware of any other petitions being circulated on the same issue? If so, can we work to get them consolidated?

  4. How is Victor doing this wrong??? If there is another petition about the same thing, then where is it? We can work together to consolidate the various petitions into one.

  5. The language in this initiative does not violate federal law. It merely conflicts with it. Solution: take marijuana out of the definition of “drugs” in that federal housing statute. Or better yet, get marijuana taken off the federal list of controlled substances. This lawyer just appears to have a moral problem with marijuana and he is using his “legal skills” and position to halt the tide of legalizing marijuana.

  6. We’re going to have 100,000 petitions about the same thing before any of them gets 100,000 votes. You’re doing it wrong.

  7. This guy is the piece of corn in a stinking turd, yes someone put him up to this. Time to flush them all

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