An initiative that would legalize possession and home cultivation of small amounts of marijuana in the District can be included on the November ballot, as long as supporters can collect the approximately 25,000 signatures required for it to qualify.
The D.C. Board of Elections on Tuesday signed off on the measure as a "proper subject for initiative under District of Columbia law." The measure, proposed by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, faced scrutiny from D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan over whether it would violate federal law governing public housing facilities.
Mr. Nathan provided an opinion to the board stating that the initiative would ban public housing facilities from stating in lease agreements that tenants can be evicted for drug-related criminal activity. But the D.C. Housing Authority, while noting Mr. Nathan's concern, wrote to the board to say that the agency was still in the process of determining how it would implement any changes afforded by adoption of the initiative.
"The comments offered by the OAG regarding DCHA, while welcomed as thoughtful analysis of the issues, do no necessarily control the legal position our agency will take on how DCHA interprets the initiative," wrote Ken Slaughter, the agency's general counsel.
The initiative would make it legal to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and to grow up to six marijuana plants in one's home.
"We're really excited that the language was approved," D.C. Cannabis Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger said, noting that advocates can't quite begin the signature-gathering process yet.
The Board of Elections still has to hold a public meeting to adopt a short title and summary statement language that will appear on the November ballot. That hearing must be held within 20 days, but Mr. Eidinger said he's hoping the hearing takes place soon because advocates would like to begin their efforts before the city's April 1 primary election.
"We want to be out there on primary day gathering signatures," he said. "I only have until July 7 to gather these signatures."
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