Tomado del Washington Post (1999)


New From The Post
Most D.C. Voters Supported Medical Use of Marijuana

By Bill Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 1999; 1:00 p.m. EDT

District voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons, officials said this morning. The election was held in November, but a court fight with Congress had kept the tallies a secret.

A federal judge in Washington ordered the results made public and certified in a ruling Friday, saying that a congressional amendment designed to thwart the law could not stand in the way of letting the elections process unfold.

Elections officials revealed the outcome this morning, carrying out a pledge by Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) to get the results out quickly. There were 75,536 votes for the initiative and 34,621 against, officials said, meaning 69 percent of those D.C. residents who voted want to change the current drug law.

The District now joins seven states that have passed similar initiatives. However, the vote total might turn out to be more symbolic than anything else. Once D.C. officials certify the result, Congress has 30 days to either approve or reject it. Congress has the final say on D.C. legislation.

In addition, Congress attached an amendment to the D.C. appropriations bill that would prevent the District from enacting any law that would legalize or reduce the penalties for possessing marijuana and other drugs. The White House is threatening to veto the bill, and today's vote could figure in that fight.

Initiative 59 would legalize the possession, use, cultivation and distribution of marijuana if recommended by a physician for serious illnesses. Under current D.C. law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts ordered that the results be released as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the initiative's supporters. The District government joined forces with the ACLU, arguing that Congress had no right to prevent District voters from being heard on the issue.

Wayne Turner, a leader of the initiative campaign, was at the elections board this morning and watched as a computer put out the results.

"Let's savor the moment. It's been a long time coming," Turner said. "But our battle isn't done yet. There's still a lot of work to do."

Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.), who sponsored the amendment to the appropriations bill, issued a statement in the wake of the court decision saying the release of the results "is largely irrelevant to anyone other than the drug legalization activists" because Congress will never approve the law.


On Our Site
  • Legislative Text

    From The Post

  • Sept. 18: District Marijuana Vote to Be Released
  • Sept. 17: Senate Approves D.C. Budget
  • Aug. 5: D.C. Dealt Major Blow on Mandates
  • July 30: House Votes Against Home Rule on Drug Issues
  • July 21: D.C. Home Rule Scores Victories
  • May 11: Williams, Council Agree on Tax Cut


    © 1999 The Washington Post Company