Washington, D.C. residents will vote on a new initiative Nov. 4 that would legalize marijuana in the District, prompting the formation of opposition group Two Is Enough D.C., which aims to urge voters to reject the referendum. Proposed by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, Initiative 71 has earned over 57,000 signatures.

Founded by Will Jones III, TIE D.C. advocates for restricting the legal drugs to alcohol and tobacco, under their namesake slogan, “Two is enough.” Jones said that he founded TIE D.C. to oppose what he believes would be a harmful addition to society.

“I am looking at it from the impact it is going to have on society at large,” Jones said.

He pointed at the pre-existing problems in society posed by alcohol and tobacco usage as evidence against legalization of a third drug.

“The test to see what is going to happen is when we look at two legalized drugs already, alcohol and tobacco, and the use of these is out of control for many areas,” he said.

According to the most recent data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, D.C. residents over the age of 14 consumed 3.89 gallons of alcohol per capita in 2012, ranking second only to New Hampshire, where residents consumed an average of 4.65 gallons of alcohol per person.

According to Jones, D.C. ranks in the top 5 areas in the nation for marijuana use, a ranking he estimates would increase after legalization.

TIE D.C.’s campaign emerges following a NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll conducted on Sept. 18, which revealed that 65 percent of likely voters support Initiative 71.

The District of Columbia decriminalized marijuana July 17 with possession and private usage of less than one ounce of the substance now considered a civil offense punishable with a $25 fine.

The Georgetown University College Democrats, who support the referendum, expect legalization to pass.

“D.C. residents were passionate enough about the issue to collect the signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot in a relatively short period of time,” GUCD Vice Chair Betsy Johnson (COL ’16) said. “These factors, along with the fact that the District has a relatively progressive electorate, would indicate that the measure will pass in November, for better or for worse.”

The Georgetown University College Republicans declined to comment, citing a diversity of opinions within the organization.

Additionally, marijuana arrests in the District have shown a high degree of racial disparity. According to a report by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, African-Americans accounted for 91 percent of drug arrests in D.C. from 2009 to 2011, despite the fact that there is no racial disparity in D.C. marijuana use. According to a report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010, 14 percent of African-Americans and 12 percent of whites admitted to using marijuana in the past year.

As it builds its campaign, TIE has acknowledged this disproportionate racial bias in the criminal justice system, but legalization will not fix the problem, Jones said.

“I definitely think that the way issues with the drug have been handled so far have been discriminatory, and there have been a hugely disproportionate amount of arrests on African-American youths and I have a problem with that,” he said. “I think that the problem is much deeper than marijuana. I think that it is discrimination and marijuana is just a distraction from that.”

Johnson disagreed, pointing to drug enforcement as a critical civil rights issue.

“Most Democrats would agree that the enforcement of drugs laws in the District has become a huge civil rights concern. Eight out of 10 of those arrested for possession in the District are black, while usage does not differ by race,” she said.

Washington state and Colorado, which approved similar referenda last November, implemented legalization earlier this year. Jones said that, as in those states, the legalization of the drug in D.C. would create a new industry.

“Marijuana is a new industry. The bottom line is money, and the major funding in favor of the legalization is from Colorado,” Jones said.

Supporters for legalization of marijuana in D.C. include the D.C. Cannabis Campaign as well as Adam Eidinger, the co-owner of Capital Hemp.

Johnson pointed out that legalizing marijuana would allow the District to collect taxes on the substance, increasing its revenues.

“It would increase tax revenues to the District, and allow MPD to focus on crimes more dangerous than marijuana possession,” said Johnson.

In July, officials from Georgetown University commented that since the university complies with federal law, which prohibits marijuana usage and possession, in addition to local law, marijuana usage would still be banned under the Code of Student Conduct.

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