Initiative 71

The Genesis of initiative 71

Started with the failed effort to legalize Cannabis in California with proposition 19 in 2010. Capitol Hemp was approached by CEO of Dr. Bronnor’s Magic soap, who was supporting the legalization effort but was running low on funds. David Bronner (CEO of Dr. Bronner’s) offered to help with a future Washington DC legalization effort in return for a substantial donation to the prop 19 effort ($25,000). Adam Eidinger and Alan Amsterdam, Co-Founders of Capitol Hemp, agreed to these terms. Although Proposition 19 didn’t pass, it laid the groundwork for a possible initiative to legalize cannabis in Washington DC.

DC Government

In 2011 the DC Government politically targeted Capitol Hemp and both locations entire inventory were raided and pilfered. Capitol Hemp agreed to a deal with the DC government to have its inventory returned and all charges dropped, in exchange both locations were to be shuttered, exiling Capitol Hemp from doing business in Washington DC. Frustrated by Washington DC’s heavy hand, the business partners decided it was time to explore changing Washington DC Cannabis laws. the original initiative was drafted in 2012 and were planning on putting on the ballot in that year. Adam and Alan decided it was the wrong time. The organization to legalize Cannabis in DC became the DC Cannabis Campaign and the 2014 election cycle was chosen to potentially legalize home cultivation and DCs outdated paraphernalia laws. True to his word, David Bronner gave the initial funding to give DC’s cannabis campaign a solid foundation to make this a reality. With the ability to hire employees the campaign was able to move forward with these ambitious plans. After the first draft was rejected by the DC Board of Elections, a second draft was submitted and accepted. The next step was the daunting task of collecting signatures to get on the ballot for the citizens of DC to vote on. With 22,600 signatures required to get on the ballot, the campaign hire professional signature gatherers to help with this process. Along with a local grassroots effort of volunteers the campaign was up and running full swing. The campaign gathered over 55,00 signatures and 27,688 were certified as valid.


In a transient city

Gathering these signatures was no easy feat, but with a stellar grassroots effort and the ability to pay signature gatherers, the campaign was successful and initiative 71 was on the ballot for the 2014 election cycle.

Now on the ballot

It was up to the residents of Washington DC to vote on Initiative 71, along with vigorous campaigning, the citizens overwhelmingly passed Initiative 71 (71%), Washington DC residents sent a crystal clear message to the DC Government. Cannabis arrests and incarceration.(primarily in minority communities) was no longer acceptable behavior by the police and judges. With this historic victory, some major obstacles still were on the horizon. Even with the victory, 2 barriers had to be knocked down before i-71 becomes law. States in the US that have propositions become law after the votes are counted. Washington DC initiative has to be approved by 2 separate bodies: the DC city council and Congress. At first the newly elected mayor bowser was on record stating she wanted to delay implementation of i-71 for further regulation. But there was a far more ominous enemy of i-71 looming in the shadows, the Federal Government. Congress has historically medaled in DC affairs after giving DC semi-autonomy in the 1970s. A deal between Democrats and Republicans gave DC I-71 as is but prevented DCs local governing body to implement a cannabis tax and regulate system. An initiative in Washington DC cannot put a tax and regulate structure in its initiative. I-71 was always intended to be a Personal Freedom Initiative to give home possession, processing, and cultivation to DC residents over 21. Without tax and regulate on the table for DC, The DC council decided not to delay the initiative and passed it, as is becoming DC law.

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NW Washington, DC 20009


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