D.C. Cannabis Campaign pushes to legalize marijuana

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Many people would prefer to keep pot out of the District, but now there's a grassroots effort to loosen the law so residents can light up legally.

According to the man behind the movement, it's time D.C. gets with the times:

“This is the number one civil rights issue of our day,” said Adam Eidinger. “Nobody is going to jail for anything quite like this."

The D.C. Cannabis Campaign chair is making legalizing marijuana his mission.

“I’m a regular cannabis user,” he admitted. “I don't want to be a criminal."

The 40 year-old says he smokes marijuana to ease his arthritis, but he doesn’t qualify for the medical marijuana program. Eidinger says he’s tired of fighting the law, so now he’s hoping to change it.

“Really, the voters should decide whether marijuana should be legal," he said. He submitted a ballot initiative Friday in hopes of making that happen.

His initiative would make having up to two ounces of pot legal, as long as you're 21 or older. You could grow marijuana, but not sell it.

“By own estimate, according to statistics in the region, there are at least 6,000 daily marijuana users in the city,” said Eidinger. “Where are they buying their marijuana from?” he questioned. “They're buying it from the black market or their growing it for themselves."

He’s proposing allowing each user to grow up to three mature cannabis plants. No more than 12 plants would be permitted per residence.

But the idea is getting mixed reviews.

“I’m personally for a healthy lifestyle,” said Julia Prudovikova who works in DC. “It's not healthy,” she said before adding, “It's not good."

Georgetown law student Nicholas Glabraith sees things differently.

“I feel like the legalization of it would keep certain people out of the legal system where we could use those resources to prosecute people for bigger offenses that may actually affect society in a greater way,” he said.

Other like Surabhi Gupta say we're stumbling down a slippery slope.

“When it's growing in a home, how do I not know my kid will just go and pick it up,” she asked. “Even for adults, some people do not have...sometimes they are not rational enough to know what's good for them,” she added.

Regardless, the law won't change overnight. The D.C. Board of Elections must first approve the ballot initiative's language. After that, 30,000 people across the city have to sign their name in favor. Each ward needs five-percent support, and those signatures will then be handed over to the D.C. Board of Elections this summer. Once the votes are verified, the question of legalizing marijuana can end up on the November ballot.

Talk of marijuana is also hitting the D.C. City Council. Councilmember Tommy Wells is holding a hearing Wednesday on his bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. He’s proposing a $25 fine for those found in possession of pot and a $100 fine for those caught smoking it. As D.C. law stands now, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor that could land you up to six months in jail.

For more on the ballot initiative, click here.