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News / Nation & World

DC adds race to nation’s debate on legalizing pot

The Columbian
Published: October 12, 2014, 5:00pm

WASHINGTON — Advocates for racial justice are pushing to legalize marijuana in the nation’s capital.

That sets a District of Columbia pot referendum apart from states where the debate focused on taxing and regulating marijuana.

Black people make up roughly half the population in the District, where an outsized number of African-Americans have been arrested on minor drug charges. And a poll last month showed voters are nearly 2-to-1 in favor of legalizing pot next month. Some experts say this racial issue could change the national conversation about pot possession laws.

But D.C. remains under the thumb of Congress, which could thwart the will of District voters. And even if it becomes law, pot would remain illegal on the fourth of the city that is federal land.