Washington, DC

How does your state measure up when it comes to establishing policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition?

Harm Reduction

Does the state permit access to clean syringes for people who inject drugs?

  • YES

Does the state have naloxone training & distribution programs available to the public at syringe exchange programs or other facilities?

  • YES

Does the state have a 911 Good Samaritan law?

  • YES

Does the state have legal methadone access?

  • YES


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

Is there a government-regulated distribution system for medical marijuana?

  • YES

More information on medical marijuana:

What are the criminal penalties for marijuana possession?

Criminal Justice

How many people are arrested for a drug offense each year? 

  • 210

What are the racial disparities in arrest rates?

  • Total population (2011): 42.4% white, 50.7% black.
    Drug Arrests (2011): 10.0% white, 89.5% black.

What happens to people’s voting rights when they become part of the criminal justice system?

  • Vote restored after: Term of Incarceration

District of Columbia Lawmakers Expected to Pass Emergency Resolutions Today Opposing Republican-Led Effort in Congress to Block Marijuana Law Reform in D.C.

D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law Slated to Take Effect on Thursday

Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Expected to Go Before D.C. Voters in November

Washington, D.C. – This morning the Council of the District of Columbia is expected to pass two emergency resolutions opposing a recent effort led by U.S. House Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) to use congressional oversight to block the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to enact marijuana reform.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Dr. Malik Burnett (202) 683-2983

Monday: DC Campaign Will Submit 58,000 Signatures to Place Marijuana Legalization on November Ballot

Photo-Op at 10am and National Press Teleconference at 12 pm Noon: D.C. Elected Officials and Campaign Staff to Address Initiative’s Impact on Marijuana Arrests, Racial Justice, DC Home Rule, and City Council Bill to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

D.C. Hoping to Follow Colorado and Washington, as Polls Show Over 60% Support for Legalization Among DC Residents

Monday at 10 a.m., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will submit 58,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections at 441 4th Street NW Suite 250,  in order to place Initiative 71 on the November ballot. The Board of Elections will have 30 days to verify that the campaign has the required 23,780 signatures to qualify.

Contact: Tony Newman, 646-335-5384 or Dr. Malik Burnett, 202-683-2983

DC Cannabis Campaign Collects Over 55,000 Signatures to Place Marijuana Legalization Initiative on General Election Ballot

Members of Congress May Take Away DC Voter’s Right to Vote on Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC — In less than 75 days, the DC Cannabis Campaign has collected more than twice the number signatures required to place Initiative 71 on November’s General Election ballot.  However, the Campaign is alarmed that members of Congress may prevent District voters from being able to vote on the ballot initiative due to policy riders that were added to the District of Columbia’s 2015 appropriation budget.

Contact: Dr. Malik Burnett (443) 821-0260 or Adam Eidinger (202) 744-2671

Republicans Vote to Block Washington, D.C.'s New Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Fight Over Amendment Expected to Move Next to House Floor

Amendment Takes Effect Long After D.C. Marijuana Law Takes Effect, Meaning It May Only Prevent the City from Issuing $25 Fines for Marijuana Possession, Creating De Facto Legalization

Washington, D.C. – This morning the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) prohibiting the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment is directed at a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.

Contact:  Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

Tomorrow: Republicans in Congress May Seek to Block Washington, D.C. from Reforming Its Marijuana Laws

Congressional Interference Comes After D.C. Lawmakers Decriminalize Marijuana to Ease Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Washington, D.C. – Republicans may offer an amendment to a federal appropriations bill tomorrow morning that would prevent the District of Columbia from implementing the marijuana decriminalization law recently passed by the D.C. City Council and signed into law by the mayor in March. The amendment would prohibit spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.

Contact:   Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Grant Smith (202) 421-5031

D.C. Police Chief Orders No Drug or Alcohol-Related Arrests for People Protected by D.C. Overdose Prevention Law

D.C. Law Encourages Calling 911 in Drug Overdose Cases; Some Drug and Alcohol Law Violations Not a Crime When Help is Sought

D.C. Part of National Momentum to Fight Overdose Deaths with 911 Good Samaritan Laws and Increased Naloxone Access

In a recent memorandum, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier has instructed her police force to observe protections from arrest and charge granted under a D.C. law designed to encourage residents to seek immediate medical assistance for a person experiencing an overdose. The Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Amendment Act of 2012 (#A19-564), which was passed by the D.C.

Contact:  Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

Drug Policy Alliance Hires Dr. Malik Burnett to Advance Marijuana Legalization in the District of Columbia

Duke University-Trained Medical Doctor To Build Community Support for Ballot Initiative 71 that Would Legalize Marijuana Possession
Organizing Focus Will Be on Racial Disparities and Societal Harms Not Resolved by Marijuana Decriminalization

WASHINGTON, DC—Former surgeon, Dr. Malik Burnett has joined Drug Policy Alliance as a full-time organizer in the District of Columbia. Burnett, a policy manager based in DPA’s Office of National Affairs in Washington, DC, will prioritize building support for Initiative 71, the taxation and regulation of marijuana through the D.C. Council and other drug policy reform initiatives that will advance social and racial justice in the nation's capital.


Tony Newman (646) 335-5384

Dr. Malik Burnett   (202) -683-2983

Republican Congressman to Introduce Legislation to Block New D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law

In Congressional Hearing, Republican-Led Panel Criticizes New D.C. Law
D.C. Council Passed Decriminalization Law to Address Racial Disparities and Out-of-Control Arrests

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing today on legislation recently passed by the District of Columbia that eliminates criminal penalties for marijuana possession. The panel, chaired by Rep. John Mica (R-FL), heard testimony describing severe racial disparities in the enforcement of D.C. marijuana laws and strong support among D.C. lawmakers and residents for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession.


Grant Smith (202) 421-5031
Tony Newman (646) 335-5384  

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray Signs Far-Reaching Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation; Bill Next Goes to U.S. Congress for Review

Legislation Ends Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C. and Reduces Racial Disparities Perpetuated by Marijuana Prohibition
Religious, Civil Rights, Anti-Poverty and Community Voices Praise Mayor and Urge Against Congressional Interference

Today, Mayor Vincent Gray approved legislation passed by D.C. Councilmembers on March 4th that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in the nation’s capital and treat possession as a civil offense subject to a small fine. In accordance with federal law, the legislation will not become law until it has been transmitted by the D.C. Council to Congress and available for a period of time for review that is expected to stretch into the summer months.

Grant Smith (202) 421-5031 or      
Tony Newman (646) 335-5384  
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