D.C. voters submit petition to expand pot decriminalization

Representatives of D.C. Cannabis Campaign submit more than 55,000 signatures at the D.C. Board of Elections Monday morning. The group wants to place an initiative relaxing D.C. marijuana laws on the November ballot. (WTOP/Jessica Greenberg)

WASHINGTON – Supporters of a measure to relax the District’s marijuana laws say they have twice the required signatures needed to put the issue before voters in November.

If allowed to take affect, the D.C. law would charge anyone 18 or older caught with 1 ounce or less of marijuana with a civil penalty of $25.

However the petition seeks to expand upon the law by allowing adults to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants and share, but not sell, up to 1 ounce to anyone who is 21 or older.

The D.C. Cannabis Campaign submitted its petition to the D.C. Election Board Monday. The group needs more than 22,000 valid signatures of registered voters to place its initiative on the ballot.

However regardless how many signatures the campaign collects, Congress may scuttle the group’s goals.

A budget rider submitted by Maryland Rep. Andy Harris would prevent the District from paying to print the ballots. Harris is also behind a move to prevent the D.C. law from taking effect. He believes that the District’s law as written would put children at risk.

“This is not about D.C. home rule,” Harris told WTOP Thursday. “This is about increasing the use of drugs and marijuana among teenagers.”

Supporters of the law and the ballot initiative say by allowing the riders to stay, Republicans in Congress are violating their belief in small government and instead are interfering with the rights of voters in the District.

“We shouldn’t have people in the (U.S.) Capitol, who are not elected by us, telling us what to do,” says campaign chair Adam Eidinger.

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WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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