Washington DC Is Legalizing Marijuana And It's A Big Deal

November 7th 2014

Matthew Segal

After election day, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Oregon will join Colorado and Washington, legalizing recreational marijuana which, in other words, means that members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, and theoretically even the President of the United States can toke up. The catch? It cannot be smoked in federal buildings, so it will be much harder for President Obama (who is stuck in the White House) to eschew his residence than Members of Congress who can easily smoke in the privacy of their DC homes and apartments. And notwithstanding the all-too-tempting speculation of whether a Congress that's high can accomplish more than our current one, why is this news important?


As Dr. Malik Burnett, a former surgeon and co-founder of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign told the Daily Beast, "Being able to legalize [it] in the backyard of Congress would make it crystal clear for Congress members that the sky doesn’t fall when you legalize marijuana." 

And he's spot on. One hurdle facing legalization in the capital, however, is a big one. Because DC is a district, not a state, Congress has the authority to overrule DC laws. Some lawmakers have signaled that they would likely work to overrule the popular vote, but it seems clear the tide is going in a different direction. And even with that looming, removing the stigma of being a dangerous drug for gangbangers is arguably the steepest climb of all that marijuana faces. 

The economic and medical evidence is already clear: Colorado collected $23.6 million in tax revenue in the first 5 months of 2014 and deaths from cannabis are nearly impossible to find (meanwhile, 88,000 deaths each year are directly related to excessive alcohol use according to the CDC).  But marijuana is still portrayed as a toxic substance that respectable people don't use.  Except they do.

Here is a short list of influential people who've smoked...  

President Barack Obama smoked weed

President Bill Clinton smoked weed

President George W. Bush smoked weed

Mayor Michael Bloomberg smoked weed

Oprah smoked weed

Bill Gates smoked weed

Martha Stewart smoked weed

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas smoked weed

Secretary John Kerry smoked weed

Michael Phelps smoked weed